"I learned not to underestimate a young kid's generosity."
D.J. Anderson, 5, of Lanham, Maryland, learned about civil war in Liberia by donating school supplies to children in that country through his school's partnership with the Liberian Outreach Program. Below, he and his mom describe the experience.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
D.J.'s mom: DJ's school has an ongoing relationship with schools in Liberia. Initially, we donated goods and money as a family.
What is the name and location of the organization?
D.J.'s mom: The Barrie School in Silver Spring, Maryland, and the Liberian Outreach Program in Monrovia, Liberia, Africa.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
D.J.'s mom: We planned a party where every invitation included the list of needed items. Invitees were asked to bring one or more items, which would then be delivered to DJ's school for hand-carrying to Liberia.
Everyone's generosity overwhelmed us. My Honda van was LOADED (with the rear seat fully folded) with pencils and pens and books and shoes and other items. These were delivered to the Barrie School and then hand-carried to schools in Liberia. The event made the local village news paper in Liberia!
What inspired you to get involved?
D.J.'s mom: When DJ realized that some kids had no school supplies because other "bad people" (he really didn't understand the concept of civil war) would take them away, he wanted to send more school supplies.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
D.J.'s mom: Through the Liberian Outreach Program at the Barrie School in Silver Spring, MD.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
D.J.: We got to give kids LOTS of stuff!
What is/was the hardest part?
D.J.'s mom: Taking the time to listen to the little ones when they want to help and actually committing the time to help them help others.
What was the biggest surprise?
D.J.: We filled up my mom's van with school stuff!
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
D.J.: Mean people hurt kids, but I helped them.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
D.J.'s mom: I never thought a five-year-old would understand want, poverty or need, but somehow, he understood and wanted to help. I learned not to underestimate a young kid's generosity, and I learned to use creative ways to help even the small ones contribute.
For books and articles on how to engage children and youth in community service, please see the Foundation Center's resource list on the subject.
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