When my son Conor was five years old, he featured on the front page of our local newspaper on Christmas Eve, as an example of what giving can do. You see, we had moved from South Florida the year before, and missed the hurricane that obliterated our city and the surrounding towns. Conor’s best friend from birth, Tyler, still lived there with his parents, Sandy and Brian. Conor and Tyler are almost exactly six months apart and consider themselves best friends no matter what. When Conor saw the destruction of Ft.Pierce, Fla. on CNN, he was frantic. Yes, the Bonars were fine, but Tyler’s grandmother’s house was destroyed and both families were considering moving back home to West Virginia.
Meanwhile, Tyler’s school was partially damaged, including the library. Conor loves books, and at ten, reads Tom Clancy novels in two days. He sprung into action and collected up his allowance and any change around the house. He then took a coffee can to school and asked his fellow kindergartners at Greenfields Elementary School for their change. His teacher, who I adore to this day, picked up the ball and had sheets printed that went home with every student in the school, asking for spare change and any other donations to help buy new books for a very soggy library in a poor town in South Florida.
The collection snowballed that in the end, Conor had raised over $1000 for Fairlawn Elementary School in Ft. Pierce. The PTO said it was the most a student had ever raised. Conor’s fund was sent to Fairlawn, who were amazed that a five-year-old in NJ would think enough about them to raise so much money. Every student in the school wrote thank you notes. We got a sack of some 600 letters, some the scrawl of first graders, along with beautiful drawings from older students. He also received a plaque, along with a plaque to hang at Greenfield’s school, and a baseball jacket that was so big, he wears it now.
When the reporter asked what his next project was, Conor proudly said he was going to donate his allowance to Heifer, International, which provides farm animals to poor villages around the world and teaches the villagers how to care for them so they can become more self-sufficient. “Eggs for everybody!” he exclaimed with glee.
Each year, Conor has donated his allowance to a cause he feels worthy. Heifer has been a favorite. This year, he attempted to get his classmates and our neighbors to come to our house for a Heifer party. It was a flop, the party that is. Because of some very generous neighbors, friends and relatives, the donations added up to $275, enough to meet Conor’s goal of buying a water buffalo for a village. We’ll try another gathering when the economy gets better. Too many of our own neighbors, including us, are struggling along. It’s time to help those close at home.