One of my favorite parts of our Christmas season is always our Children for Children Concert that my big kids and some of their friends organize and put on to benefit children somewhere in the world who are in need. (For more history on this concert click here and here and check out Children for Children on my sister’s blogs). Basically, my parents started this tradition when I was little and it made such a big impact on us that it has since has spread through the Eyrealm, picking up steam and participants every year. This year I think 4 of my siblings held their own Children for Children concerts. So great to see how everyone does it differently and to see the thrill of making a positive change in the world spread like wild fire through all these cousins and their friends and neighbors. It’s a perfect way to start off the season.
(Children for Children Planning Committee)
This is our 5th year doing this concert with our good friends the Kruckenbergs. Our little planning committee (consisting of my two big kids and the three oldest Krucks) is getting pretty darn good at making this concert happen and finding creative ways to raise lots of money. The only thing Heidi and I really do is to make sure they get together weekly for about 6 weeks before the concert to meet and plan. This year the kids pretty much ran the meetings themselves (rotating who was in charge) and followed up with each other to make sure everyone was doing their tasks. Of course there was some mom nagging and nudging involved to make sure things were happening, but the work was all the kids. They researched and voted on which Charity to raise money for, contacted the charity, invited performers, talked through the program, emceed the event, came up with a presentation, sent out emails, made invitations, brainstormed some awesome donor incentives, figured out refreshments, sound, chairs etc etc. We had some pretty heated meetings full of debates and opinions. It was pretty challenging but also quite enlightening to take a back seat and watch our kids unique styles of leadership and execution unfold. We bit our tongues and sat on our hands most of the time to give them space to do things on their own. There were times I just couldn’t refrain from stating some of my opinions, but these guys called the shots in the end.
I did come away from every meeting impressed with these kids dedication to the heart of this effort. In nearly every meeting they brought up the people they were helping and expressed their driving desires to really make a difference in the lives of kids who didn’t have the privileges that they do.
After some really great proposals they kids voted to raise money for an organization called Living Goods. Check out their website here. They do really incredible work with such an interesting model that enables them to provide jobs to mothers while improving public health at the same time. The kids were sold by the unique way Living Goods helps children and by the fact that they could make a significant difference in a child’s life with just $2.
People came. Kids performed. People donated money. We ate cookies. The mayor of Malden came. Johanna even wrote a song. It was a glowing night (after a bit of serious pre-concert drama).
The ‘planning committee’ set a goal to raise $2000. This was a big jump from last year and we weren’t sure we were going to make it. In order to motivate donors the kids pledged to pick up trash for 2 hours in Malden if they reached their goal. After this pledge I think many of them were secretly hoping that they wouldn’t reach their goal, but their efforts were contagious and inspired the 1st, 4th and 5th grades at their elementary school to sell bookmarks to raise money for their cause. With that money added to so many generous donors they raised a total of $2331.90! And that’s before the Eyrealm match. I know compared to many big fund raisers this is pennies, but to these kids it’s a fortune. They were so excited and happily (for at least the first hour) picked up some pretty gross trash in Malden this past weekend.
This experience wasn’t all roses and warm fuzzies. We had our share of drama,upset kids, people not doing what they needed to, nerves, frustration, moms on edge. But in spite of all of this they did it and I like to believe that the thrill of working hard and pulling something like this off is making a deep impact on who these kids are and how they see the world. I love the connections they’re making between their efforts and big problems. I love seeing them feel empowered to make changes. I love seeing the joy that comes from engaging in the world and working hard. And I LOVE the examples of so many adults around them who are willing to engage with them, come and listen to a little bit too long concert with lots of budding but screechy talent, send in checks and pat them on the back.
Here are some photos from the event this year:Here’s Hazel giving her presentation to inform potential donors of all the good work Living Goods is doing.
^^Here is Johanna playing a song she wrote for the event. It was so sweet and touching. She’s got a big heart. All these kids do. Here the performers are with the Mayor of Malden. What I didn’t include here is pictures of these kids glee as they counted up the money they raised that night. Opening that box of cash and checks and counting it up is always such a thrill.
We got a very generous donation with this super kind note from the director of Peter’s school. I love that woman and her signature smiley face. We were all so psyched about the check and touched by her enthusiastic support.
And here these kids are picking up trash in the windy cold. Oh boy, they picked up some gross things.
Doing this concert and everything surrounding it makes me so proud of their big hearts and their capable minds and their willing souls.
Watch out world, these guys are growing up. They’re making their good, light, happy mark already. Can’t wait to see what’s to come.