My daughter, Avery, and I sat this morning pooling change and dollar bills for a school fundraiser. She was insistent that I match her giving (something we do with her savings account and other good financial choices) and I sat and thought “Oh boy…look what you’ve created.” A little background might be necessary…Avery, a fourth-grader, is 10 going on 35. She’s wise and caring, smart and often sassy. All of these traits were illustrated during this morning activity.
My husband, Scott, and I have tried to teach her to ‘help when you are able’ because we have been helped ourselves in so many ways. We’ve tried to model the way through our actions – be they serving others through volunteering or giving financially when able. Circle of Sisterhood has certainly been a strong influence on Avery given my role on the board. She frequently sees me working on the Foundation’s administrative work, travelling to a conference or attending board meetings. I most enjoy talking to her about our grants, grantees and what the funds we’re raising will do for others.
I feel blessed that my work with CofS is giving Avery a window into the concepts of philanthropy and service and, perhaps even more importantly, insight into her privilege as a girl growing up in the United States. It wasn’t until this past Christmas that I realized she was really paying attention to what we were doing — that the paper doll cutouts and stamping and sealing of envelopes she’s helped with have left an impression.
On Christmas morning Avery proudly gave me the most beautiful gift – $52.17, all in change and all for the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation. She had been the lucky recipient of her Nana’s ‘change jar’ contents over Thanksgiving and while she had been evasive when I’d asked about taking it to the bank for her, I didn’t see this coming. Her card stated that she knew the money would help girls in Africa through our school build more than it would help her and she wanted CofS to have it. I was shocked, humbled and proud. This was a selfless act by a child who wasn’t always the picture of selflessness.
What has followed since is inspiring — she came home from church with a dollar bill and had been instructed to use it to help someone else. It landed in the CofS bank account with some matching funds. She went to a book-signing where the proceeds went to cancer research and was triggered to create a duct-tape store (any of you living through the ‘you can make anything out of duct tape craze can appreciate this) to raise funds for CofS. She set a goal of $20 after expenses and raised more than that with her door-to-door visits and generous friends. It was quite an undertaking – and 100% her own.
I share this not to brag about my daughter as I know others in our extended Foundation family have similar stories. Rather I offer this to remind us that the work we do for the Foundation, in any capacity, is making an impact and is internalized by others. College students, alumnae, friends and family – even the youngest girls in our circles of influence – are being impacted. In turn they are making decisions that will change the world. They are owning their role in improving the lives of others and advancing the Foundation’s work through acts of service and philanthropy large and small. And if this means I will forever be matching any gift Avery gives, regardless of charity, I will gladly do so. I’m ever grateful for the Foundation’s influence on my daughter; what a gift it has given us in shaping her view of ‘other’ and her role in – and responsibility to – the world.
This blog was contributed by Sue Kraft Fussell, a proud member of the Board of Directors for the Foundation, she has been involved in the organization since its inception. She is a Delta Gamma alumna. If you have an idea for encouraging philanthropy in children, we’d love to hear it! Feel free to post on Facebook or send via email to blog(at)circleofsisterhood.org.