Tuesday, February 25, 2014

There is no such thing as small change.

I held the insulin vial high above my head where the light from the gym windows could just catch the liquid left within.

“This is insulin.  Your bodies make insulin all day long.  Believe it or not, your body needs insulin to live.  My boys have Type 1 Diabetes.  Their bodies do not make insulin.  Just days without this…and they can’t be alive anymore.”

I gently shake the bottle to make my point.  Their eyes were bright with interest.  I had them.

“Thankfully, we’re able to inject this insulin into their bodies, and they can live a normal life just like you and me.  But there is a catch.  This bottle of insulin is very expensive.  This little vial alone costs about $150.  Our family goes through a bottle of insulin about every five days.  We are very lucky we have good insurance so we can afford to keep our boys alive and healthy.”

I pointed to a map bright on the screen projected by the overhead.

“This is Haiti.  And over here?  This is Africa.  When a child is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in these countries, their family almost always can’t afford the insulin.  Do you understand what that means?”

The children nodded solemnly.

“All they need to live are several drops of this very special liquid.  A lot of times bad things happen and there is nothing we can do about it.  But in this case, that isn’t true.  We all can help!  Even if we can only help one child, wouldn’t our efforts be worth it?”

Children are humble, loving, pure souls.  They have a knack for empathy.  When I asked them if they’d be willing to bring in $1 or more on Valentines Day to help these children live, they cheered.  When I told them their $1 would also buy them a pass to wear their favorite silly or fun hat to school that day too, they were beside themselves with happiness.

Two weeks later I walked around the school collecting envelopes thick with money.  Each teacher had a story. 

“This student’s family has nothing.  They are barely making it and they handed me a $20 bill.  I tried to explain to them that $1 would be enough, but they insisted.”

“That student over there handed me $40.  Her parents said they would match any amount of money she was willing to give of her own.  She gave it all.”

“Hi Mrs. Schuhmacher!  I gave money for in-su-lin!!!  I’m helping a kid in Africa be alive!”

All in all we raised $1000 for the Spare a Rose Campaign on behalf of Life for a Child.

This is the effort it took me:

5 minutes to talk to the students about the campaign.
20 minutes to prepare envelopes with attached class lists to hand out to the teachers.
20 minutes to put together a flier for the students to bring home to their families.
30 minutes to print the fliers and collate them for each class.
1 hour to collect and count the money.

Two hours and 15 minutes of my time, and what benefits did it reap?

16+ years of life for a child.

Please don’t sing my praises.  I didn’t do anything that any of you couldn’t do.

I writing this to show everyone within my reach that with very minimal effort, amazing things can come to pass.  If we all do something little, our little efforts unite into a tidal wave of help.

Look what the children of our Elementary School did!  

Today I dropped off 450 homemade chocolate chip cookies to the boys’ school.  On each class plate, I pinned this note:

Dear Teachers and Students,

Our Valentine's Day caps fundraiser was a fantastic success!  The (school name) community raised $1000 to put towards insulin for children in developing countries.  That is over sixteen and a half years of life for a child!

As with everything in life, your actions will have consequences.  I know we often think of consequences as a bad thing, but sometimes our actions reap good consequences too.  In that spirit, I wanted to say thank you for your kind donations by sending chocolate chip cookies your way.  I hope in the future this experience will fuel your desire to do more good in the world.  Many small acts of kindness can make a huge difference.  Look at the difference we made!

Congratulations on a job well done!

All our love and adoration,
Meri Schuhmaher and Family

I want you to know that I believe what I wrote to these children.  Too often I don't contribute, because I believe my contribution will be too small to be noticed.  Imagine if we all stopped thinking like that.  Imagine everyone, all of us, doing small things everyday to contribute.  I can scarcely imagine what a wonderful world this would be.

It's time to do our part.  "There is no such thing as small change."


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