"It's not as hard as you think to give up presents."
For his last five birthdays, Cole Hodges, 11, of Richmond, Virginia, has encouraged his friends to give gifts to charity instead of to him, and with his mom's help, he started a web site to reach more of his peers to do the same.
What kind of philanthropic or volunteer work did/do you do?
Cole: I started a nonprofit organization to encourage other kids to donate their birthdays to charity rather than get presents.
What is the name and location of the organization?
Cole: DonateYourBirthday.org is the web site. We are in Richmond, Virginia.
Tell us about the project, especially who benefited from this work.
Cole: The kid who donates his birthday benefits the most, even though a lot of kids think it's a sacrifice. It makes you feel good to help other people. Since you can donate to any group that needs help, anyone can benefit. It depends on how many people decide to do it.
What inspired you to get involved?
Cole: My friend's younger sister got cancer.
How did you first get involved? Give us some details.
Cole: I wanted to give my friend's sister all my presents, and my mom said we could help more by getting donations instead of giving her presents. I did it for five years, and since I wanted to get other kids involved, my mom helped me start a web site.
What is/was the best thing about your experience?
Cole: Helping other people.
What is/was the hardest part?
Cole: My mom says, "The paperwork."
What was the biggest surprise?
Cole: It's not as hard as you think to give up presents. Most of the stuff you get is stuff you don't need anyway, and the people you help need it.
What new things have you learned as a result of your experience and how have you changed as a result?
Cole: I want to do it every year. I am also growing my hair for Locks of Love (a nonprofit that provides hairpieces to children suffering from long-term medical hair loss), even though some people think I'm a girl with my long hair.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of getting involved in philanthropy or volunteering?
Cole: Just do it.
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