Magical Money Box

According to the Buzzfeed machine, the newest Twitter hashtag going around is #ConfessToSomethingStupid.

Even though I don’t have Twitter, despise hashtags, and only use them ironically, I thought to myself a) this would be the perfect topic for a blog post and b) I probably have so much material from my life. In fact, I had a post quite a while ago with stupid things I used to believe, right here, and I reread it to make sure I wouldn’t repeat a story.

So here’s a story about something stupid I used to believe.

Up until the first grade, I went to a Conservative Jewish preschool in the same building where my mom taught. As a Conservative Jewish school, one of the values they taught was tzedakah, or charity. One of the ways they would teach us was by having tzedakah box time. Our parents were instructed to give us some coins or a one-dollar bill every Friday so that we could participate. So, every Friday of my preschool and kindergarten years, the teachers sat us down in a circle and put one of those little blue and white cardboard Jewish National Fund fold-it-yourself tzedakah boxes in the center, and we’d sing a song. I can’t remember the name of it, but it went something like this: “Do you have a penny, a penny, a penny? Do you have a penny, a penny today?” All the kids who had pennies that day would crawl to the middle of the circle and stuff their pennies into the box. Then, we’d repeat the song, only with “nickel” instead, and then “dime,” “quarter,” and “dollar.” About once a month, the box would get too full, and one lucky kid got to take it to the front office.

As a preschooler, I had no idea what happened to the money once we dropped it off and then traded it in for a new box. I don’t know where I got it from, but I had this image in my head that there was a secret pipe somewhere behind the secretary’s desk – possibly like the tubes at the drive-thru bank – and at the end of the day, the secretaries would open the lid and pour the money into the pipe, where it would magically travel to Israel. Once it was there, it would fall from the sky into a giant pile of all the rest of our coins and dollars, and people would just kind of take money as they needed it. I then imagined that all schools had pipes like this that magically spit money into Israel and hopefully not hit anyone in the head. Then, when you went to Israel, you could go and find your school’s money pile., kind of like if you pay to have JNF plant a tree for you in Israel, you get a little certificate and you can go see where that tree was planted.

It wasn’t until the hashtag came up that this memory resurfaced. Completely irrational and weird, but what can I say, I was about 4 years old. Secret tubes and giant piles of money.

And that’s how I thought charity worked.


On Fundraising

First of all, let me just start by saying that this post is going to be super short, because I want to update my two previous posts, which I’ll link below.

But first, some thoughts on fundraising.

I was taught to never ask people for money. Well, not for myself, at least, but still…to just leave people alone when I came to opening their wallets. Fundraising for charity, however, is one of those things that kind of breaks this rule, but you can still come off badly from it. No one is obliged to give money to charity, so if you raise any money at all, consider it a bonus; it’s money that did not exist before but exists now. Some people do, and some people don’t. Some people don’t even respond.

The reason I bring this up?

Relay for Life.

The American Cancer Society hosts this event called Relay for Life, where you walk around a track all night, sponsored by friends/family/people who donate to cancer research through your website. They have it set up so that anyone can donate to you/your team through a website, and they suggest a minimum $100 donation, which is not too much to ask. I mean, I probably would have paid for it all myself, but there was something clawing at me to just ask people and see if I could raise $100 for charity really really quickly, because the event is tomorrow night.

So, I registered for my team, APO, and started my campaign with $10 of my own money – the only charity requirement, like a registration fee – and then took to Facebook to ask my friends. I messaged around 50 or so friends who were online, some people I see every day, some I have not seen or talked to for months or years. I was straight up about it, just saying:

“Hey [friend], would you consider donating money to my American Cancer Society Relay for Life team?”

And to my surprise…some people just gave.

An hour or two later, I had more than my $100.

It was so interesting; a few of the people who gave were people who I thought would do it, who are people currently in my life who have golden hearts, but then there were a few who surprised me with their generosity. One girl, who I haven’t talked to or seen for the better part of a decade, not only gave money but wrote me a nice note about how proud she is of my successes and was glad to help out. And another friend who I also haven’t talked to for about that same length of time, he and I had a nice little conversation; I never knew him very well, but now I know that he’s currently doing AmeriCorps in the small town of Alamosa, Colorado until July, and enjoying every bit of it. Which is totally cool. And now I have a friend in Alamosa, Colorado.

But anyway…what I wanted to conclude with is that, sometimes, people care more than you think. You know what else, they say that high school is the best years of your life, they say that college is the best years of your life, but I think the best years in your life are those when you can give $10 to charity, on a request from a friend whom you haven’t talked to in awhile, and just plain feel good about it. I did it a few weeks ago for someone else, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Even if you’re not made of money, giving just a little bit – what you’d spend on a coffee or a few beers – can give you a good, warm feeling for the rest of the day.

And it’s fewer calories than beer.

And it doesn’t give you the Starbucks trots, either.

Oh, and even though I’ve been writing less frequently of late, hooray for my first six-continent day in April! Big hugs and warm feelings to North America (USA and Canada), South America (Ecuador and Venezuela), Europe (UK, Lithuania, and Spain), Asia (Israel, India, and my first ever visitor from Bhutan!), Africa (Kenya) and Oceania (Australia).