Monday, August 3, 2009

Spread Love: When African-American Children Put Their Minds To It, They CAN Change the World

Let me tell you something about my nephew, Miles: One of these days, he’s going to be running things. I don’t know if it’s going to be a small business or a small country, but he’s going to be in charge of something and telling other people exactly what they need to do to make his stuff sparkle and shine. Seriously, this kid is forever plotting and planning ways to be the leader, run his own little enterprise, and rally the troops and, on his most entrepreneurial days, make some cold, hard cash. I mean, this kid is like a pied piper—can convince a room full of children to sit and watch him play their Wii, or plot out the rules for a game he makes up. Recently, he used his powers of persuasion to get a kid to pay him $40 for a (used) toy worth, at best $15. In fact, he even told the boy the toy was worth only $15, but it was no matter; that kid liked Miles more than the toy and was willing to just give my nephew all his little money because, well, he’s cool and he was honored to hand over two crisp $20 bills to his idol.

Anyhow, when Miles uses his powers for good (which is often), it’s magical. Witness what he cooked up this past weekend: A recycled toy sale. Miles’s idea was to get his cousins and friends to gather up all their gently used but big-time forgotten toys to hawk, yard sale-style.

The deal was every kid who participated would get to keep the proceeds from their own sales, and then whatever toys were left over would be donated to two different hospitals in South Africa, where waiting rooms in the children’s wards are void of toys and other distractions needed to comfort sick kids. No doubt it's a high-minded recycling and service concept that he picked up from his mom/my sister-in-law Angelou, an environmentalist who regularly hypes in Georgia classrooms the virtues of recycling through her non-profit environmental group, the Greening Youth Foundation.

For two weeks—well, mostly the night before the big toy sale—my nephews Miles and Cole and my daughters Mari and Lila ran all through their toy chests/closets/playrooms/ storage areas/beds/dark corners looking for stuff to sell. And on Saturday, they set up shop on the curbside outside my sister-in-law’s house and gave up their toys.

In the process, the kids rediscovered toys they long loved, and declared their affection for playthings they’d long forgotten (Lila refused to part with her prized collection of chocolate baby dolls, even though they haven’t seen any action in months!). And in some cases, the kids said their sad little goodbyes to some old friends.

Of course, the payoff was well worth it—none of them did too shabby in the sales department. But as they loaded their unsold toys into a box headed for South Africa, these children admitted they were getting much more than a wad of cash; they were getting that warm feeling inside knowing that they were doing something special for kids who aren’t as blessed as they—kids who need the help of other kids with foresight, intelligence, sweetness, and, above all else, heart.

Kudos Miles for the vision, and Cole, Mari and Lila for your beautiful hearts. The four of you, along with your friends, bring us great joy.

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  1. Hi Denene,

    Congratulations on being a Black Weblog Finalist in two categories! I really look up to your blog.


  2. This is wonderful -- my daughter was just asking me if she could set up a lemonade stand. (She and my nieces did this last summer) I really appreciate the idea of setting it up for the purpose of charity, though. Hmmm... I'm inspired now, Denene. Great job kids!

  3. What a cool idea and kudos to the kids for role modeling being of service. Excellent!

  4. Those are just great kids! I'm so proud and I don't even know them! :)

  5. Fantastic. Love this post and the kids looked like they had fun doing it too. That's how it should be. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful. Go Kids!!!

  6. I love it when kids or people with extraordinary personalities, people who are easily likable, do something good with that gift. What a wonderful nephew you have! I love meeting joyful people like that.


  7. This is a great thing... Congrats to your nephew for doing 2 wonderful things. Charity and recycling... Awesome!!!

  8. Those are some wonderful kids you have on your family unit. Give them all big hugs for having such big hearts!


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