In the interest of full disclosure, I will receive a stipend from 77kids for participating in this project. All items mentioned in this post have been distributed to deserving people, as described.
I was recently invited by 77kids to participate in their 77kids Do Good Day on July 14. The idea was to have a pay it forward type of event in eleven cities with seven bloggers each - the 77 symmetry! Chicago ended up having more than seven, but it was great!
77kids is a new brand from American Eagle (well, new to brick and mortar; they've had an online presence since 2008) that features clothing for children up to size 14. The new stores are designed to be fun with all sorts of entertainment for kids while parents shop, in addition to prizes for kids to choose.
My favorite part though is the focus on how kids can make a difference that is part of the display within the stores - inspiring stories of kids doing good in small ways that make a big difference when added up.
And how better to celebrate the opening of their seven brick and mortar stores (Danbury Fair, Mall of America, Cherry Hill Mall, Carousel Center, Crabtree Valley, and TBD) that by having their down Do Good Day.
Each team of bloggers brainstormed to come up with an idea of how they could do good with the $200 the team was provided. Our team headed to the Ronald McDonald houses in Chicago (half to Children's and the other half to UofC) to cook and bake for the residents of the houses.
I loved that our children were involved in this, too. We all brought our kids to help out, and baking for someone else was so up the wee ones' alley. They should it was the coolest thing ever that their special foods would go to someone who didn't have it otherwise.
The Ronald McDonald Houses are near and dear to Mister Man's heart, too. He has a good friend from kindergarten whose younger brother has leukemia and has been in and out of the hospital more times than they can count. He's still undergoing chemo to fight it, and his family has stayed in Ronald McDonald houses in the past (where residents are asked to pay only $10 per night). He loves that he was helping families just like his friends, and I love that it was something that truly meant something to him.
Lunch and baking supplies didn't take up our full $200 allotment, so we also bought items off the Ronald McDonald House wish list. They need all the basics from aluminum foil to pillows to new toys and games for their residents. We were able to help provide many of these items, but more is always needed.
Each family also received a box (ours didn't arrive, but we've been assured it will soon - in the meantime we shared with the other families) that included goodie bags filled with discounts and other items to pass out to people, as well as 77 $1 bills with little pieces of paper to attach that describe how you can easily do good for free.
This was the wee ones' favorite part. We were given a big stack of the dollars to pass out since another family wasn't going to be able to do so. After we finished up at the Ronald McDonald House, we had lunch, and the giving began.
At first, Mister Man would shyly shove a dollar with the sheet of paper explanation towards someone, without really explaining what he was doing or why. Once he got going, he got really good at explaining that he was part of the Do Good Day, and this was one of the ways he was doing good. By sharing a dollar with someone, he was showing how easily a small thing can make someone's day and do good.
People's reactions were interesting. Many people didn't want to take money from this sweet little six year old. Once we explained that it wasn't "our" money we were giving away and that it was for a project to show what good can be done so easily, people were more willing to accept it. Many still wanted only to take the paper explaining the event and give him back the dollar, but we never let them.
Many people really had their eyes opened. They loved this idea and pledged to pass it along and do their own good with the dollar - or sometimes with their own means. Regardless of what they said they'd do, the smiles on their faces were enough of a reward for us.
I loved this event, and next year, the wee ones and I will have to find another way to Do Good. It was so easy, and I think they really learned a lot. Having something that they could relate to was key, and I'm pretty sure this is going to stick with them.