Richer by giving, by six
Lil's very first guest blogger is the award-winning journalist, Messenger digital editor and columnist with NewsCorp Australia, Kara Jung. She's also the awesome mum of a very impressive young man. We asked Kara to tell us more about the best 6th birthday gift ever.
Anne Frank wrote within the pages of her diary that ‘no one becomes poorer by giving’. It’s one of my favourite quotes and bears a message I hope to instil in my children and be better at myself. But when it comes to birthdays, especially when you’re a kid, I reckon that’s a time to be a little self-indulgent.
So when I asked my son Drew what he wanted for his 6th birthday, I was expecting a list similar to the one we’d posted to Santa a few months earlier; Beyblade Burst avatar attack battle set, magical sticky gloves that allow you to climb the side of buildings and large mountains without falling off, the next book in Andy Griffiths’ Treehouse series, Star Wars Lego.
Instead, he said he wanted to do something to help kids that don’t have toys or get to go to school.
I’m not sure if this had anything to do with my mini-meltdown several months earlier, where I dumped all the kids’ toys in the middle of the lounge room declaring I could no longer handle the mess and put out three big red tubs; one for Drew, one for his little sister, and “one for kids just like you but who don’t have toys”.
This started as well as you can imagine, with my children rediscovering toys they have literally ignored for years and declaring them the best toys ever that they could not possibly part with and must keep forever.
When I said they HAD to fill the red tub, Drew started offering up his sisters toys (points for creativity). But eventually, they got their heads around it and after a shaky start we got there. We drove to the charity shop together and made the donation while we talked about what it would mean to receive toys your family otherwise couldn’t afford.
Or maybe it was the $10 Christmas gift from Grosspapi (Grandpa) with the directive it had to be spent on a toy, picked by the kids . . . . and donated to the K-Mart Wishing tree [gifts for kids who might not otherwise receive them].
Or perhaps it’s seeing the adults around him make regular donations to different charities each year. For years we have sponsored Cambodian family Huern and Sok and their children, we donated to money this year to help build a guard post to defend wild orangutans from illegal poachers in Sumatra, donated our time to cook sausages for the school barbecue fundraisers and working bees.
Maybe it’s a mix of all these things, or none of them. We left it for a few weeks to see if he wanted to change his mind. He didn’t. And so out went the invites, saying we would be grateful for a donation to his charity jar but no presents please. He settled on Cows for Cambodia, a charity which helps families, which often results in the kids being freed up to attend school.
The day of the party came – he was happy and proud. His little chest swelled. He felt good about himself.
What we weren’t prepared for was how generous his classmates (and their parents) were and how this happy feeling spread. He raised enough money that he was able to go to school the next week and share the news that on behalf of his class, he had bought a cow.
A month later, his mate Jarvis had a birthday party and, inspired by Drew’s efforts, asked for donations to help fight homelessness instead of presents.
For Drew, he got to help children, he was able to involve his class and inspire others to give too.
He felt a happiness that toys really can’t buy. Because when we give, we are all richer for it.