I was just a kid with an allowance, but I learned to give back. I had always had dreams of being a superhero and saving people and little did I know that I would be just that, a 12-year-old boy, with his allowance money, would change the lives of so many people.
Recently I was asked how I got started in working with nonprofits, staring back at the man with a huge smile on my face I responded, “With Three Jars” and so began the story of how my mom set aside three jars for me, one for spending, one for savings, and one for giving back to my community. Through this, I was able to feed multiple families in need of thanksgiving meals, give children who were at risk Christmas presents, and help build homes for families in New England.
After explaining how my nonprofit journey started a few people said that I needed to write about this so that more people can learn about how easy it is to make a profound impact as a young person.
So here it is, how I got started, the impact that I was able to make at such a young age, and how this simple method of dividing up money made me have strong passion for nonprofits and helping others.
How I Learned To Give Back
I grew up in Stamford, CT, and like many kids who lived in the neighborhood, I had a weekly allowance. I would take out the trash, recycle, clean parts of the house, do dishes, mow the lawn, and shovel snow in the wintertime. There was an endless list and I was eager to make some money.
After completing my list of chores and/or tasks to my parents’ liking, I would receive a small portion of the money at the end of each week. Unlike some children, my parents never just gave me money. I learned at a very young age that to make money, you had to earn it.
Now, unlike some children, there was a catch, after I received my weekly amount of dollar bills. I had three jars that I would have to split my money up into equally. The three categories were savings, spending, and charity. Since I wasn’t comparing allowances or talking about money with my friends, I thought this was a normal practice among my peers.
This worked out well for me because the savings and charity jars would go to their respective places end of the year. I would invest my savings jar into the stock market, and the charity jar would go to my charity of choice.
The Charity Jar – Making A Difference
The process of picking a charity typically involved me being questioned by my mother. She would ask me about my interests, what I thought was unfair in the world, and where I thought my hard-earned money should go. We would then do the research together on different organizations and decide if I wanted to give a portion or the whole amount to the organizations we researched.
Some years I gave 50% to one and 50% to another, or sometimes I would give the entire 100% to a single organization. This was a fantastic exercise for me as I learned more about the issues and organizations that helped people that were in need.
What got to me, though, was after a few years of doing this, I had an epiphany. One year, I donated my entire jar of money to my church for Thanksgiving. I came to find out a couple of weeks later that my donation ended up serving 12 families a Thanksgiving meal.
When my mother told me this, I was in shock. Here was a young kid who had everything he could need and was told that he helped feed 12 families with his own money. I broke down in tears. I was 12 years old, and on that day in December, I knew I would somehow help people for the rest of my life. I guess you could say that this was a pivotal movement in my life and ultimately has led me to where I am today.
Today I serve on multiple boards, help nonprofits get their message out to the world, and am blessed to have an impact not only in my community but the world. All of this started because my mom made me split up my allowance money into those three jars. Seeing the impact that a couple of hundred dollars could make changed me at such a young age that it embedded something in me to always help others.
Some of you reading this may disagree with this method of educating children about giving back, or some of you may be doing something similar. At the end of the day, helping someone and giving back to your community should be taught very young. Educating children about the importance of helping others and giving back will only have a positive impact on the world.
I hope this post was enlightening, and I would love to hear your thoughts and comments. Be sure to check out The Take for more nonprofit and marketing content.