Four years ago in July, I had a breast removed. The diagnosis was stage 2 lobular carcinoma. To you and me, that simply means breast cancer.
It seems like a lifetime ago, but if you bring it up to my family, they still have a lot to say about that time. And you know what? It’s not all bad.
My daughter, Jordan, who was 11 at the time, spent hours in her room sewing coffee cup sleeves. That little craft project ended up raising $100,000 for women who need better access to breast cancer screenings. Jordan would be the first to tell you that it wasn’t her, but rather a community of people who believed in her and wanted to support her that made that impact possible.
I’m highlighting kids and their kindness during the month of July, and today I want to introduce you to Olive from Onalaska, Wis. Her proud grandmother, Brenda Dick, of Lisbon, N.D., reached out with her story.
“Last year when my granddaughter, Olive, was in first grade, they had an assignment to write what they would do if they had $100. Olive wrote that she would give it to a charity because they have no money. She went on to say, ‘I feel bad for the homeless, I just see them in the streets.’
"My son Nathan saw this in her backpack and posted it on Facebook. He said it was a proud dad moment. A friend who has a business stated he would be over to give Olive $100. Another friend said he would match it. Olive was overjoyed and started researching charities to give the money to. Her parents took her to the YWCA Ruth House, which is an emergency shelter for women transitioning from substance abuse treatment. Olive toured the house, asked questions, and gave them her money.
"She was asked to speak at the YWCA luncheon where she challenged the audience to match her money. She explained why it is important to give back. Through Olive’s challenge, they raised close to $5000! Olive was overjoyed!
"This year, Olive was given the outstanding youth in philanthropy award by the Upper Mississippi Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She was also named philanthropist of the year by the Lacrosse, Wis., YWCA.
"Olive says you are never too young or too old to give back and do philanthropy work. Her parents have taught her and her sister they have a duty and a responsibility to help out when they can. Olive and her family are continuing to raise funds for the YWCA with events like rummage and bake sales.”
Olive and Jordan are both learning at a young age how great it feels to give. But guess who they are learning it from? People like you. People who see the efforts of a child and say, “I can help.”
The next time someone is selling lemonade in your neighborhood or running a bake sale for charity, I hope you’ll think of Olive and Jordan and remember that big things happen when we show kids their efforts matter.
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Aberdeen, S.D., with her three children and her husband, Saul Phillips, the head men's basketball coach at Northern State University. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.