Updated: May 12, 2021
In the spirit of embracing the unexpected, I’d like to share two stories with you that happened while helping to facilitate a fundraiser for my son’s high school robotics team.
It was a simple bucket drop. Stand outside the local grocery store with our beloved robot, Max, share information about our team and season, and hope that it would lead to people dropping a dollar or two into the basket on our table. That happened, and so much more.
Early in the day, a mom and her daughter—maybe six years old—walks by us on their way into the grocery store. The young girl’s eyes widen with amazement as she watches Max move around the sidewalk. Mom, with a smile on her face, offers to stop by on the way back out. We’ve heard this promise to return many times, and it often goes unfulfilled. But I could tell by that memorable expression on her face that they’d be back. Fast forward ten minutes… With that same exuberant smile, the young girl marches toward our table with two dollar bills in her hand, dropping both of them in our basket. Mom offers a proud smile before sharing that she gave her daughter two bills along with an opportunity to give one as a donation and keep the other for herself. The six-year-old, with all her inherent human generosity, decided that she’d like to give both of those dollars to our team. Without any expectation for something in return. As a special treat, we let her drive the robot. That moment filled our donation jar and fulfilled our team’s mission in a way that no monetary donation ever could.
Later in the day, an older boy—maybe twelve years old—walks his bike along the sidewalk with two older brothers in their teens. It appeared as though they’d stopped into the grocery store to pick up some drinks on a hot day. As he walked by, the boy stopped, grabbed the remaining change in his pocket, and dumped it in our basket. There was no pressure from parents. There was no impetus for him to spend his last remaining coins on a fundraiser that he probably knew little about. He was simply struck by the desire to help someone who was asking for help, even if it only meant being able to toss a few quarters in a jar.
I expected this particular day to be long, and for lack of a better word, not all that interesting. Sitting in a chair for the balance of nine hours while watching customers come and go… it didn’t sound like the most exciting way to spend my Saturday. But I was so wrong.
This is a day I will remember for a long time to come. We had patrons drop twenty-dollar-bills into our donation jar. We ended up doing very well to meet our quota for the funds we hoped to raise on that weekend.
But it was the unexpected occurrence of that extra dollar bill and a few coins that made all the difference, to me. It’s a reminder that the small things are truly the most important.
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