By Devlin Smith
As a second grader at Dunbar Elementary School in Glen Ellen, Calif., Tyler Davenport had a “Big Idea.” Inspired by his mom, he decided to collect a mile’s worth of pennies ($844.80) for the African Well Fund
With the help of his teacher, Holly Campbell, classmates, parents and people within his Northern California community, Tyler, now a third grader, surpassed his goal, eventually raising $2,250.
Tyler’s mother Mallory answered a few questions about her son’s fundraising and the impact it’s had on their family.
Why did Tyler want to raise money for the African Well Fund?
One day as we were driving to school, Ty says to me, “Mom, I don’t want to go to school today.” I told him of this young boy that I had heard of who lives in Africa. He gets up every day at 4 a.m. to go to school. This boy must walk for one hour through areas of extreme poverty and violence so that he may catch a bus and ride to school for another hour. Then he returns home the same way. He does it every single day because he knows that education is a way out. I also explained to him that there are a great many children who never get an education and that he should always value his. Then a couple of weeks later, again on the way to school, he said “Mom, I want to do something to help the people in Africa.” So, we walked to class and discussed our conversation with his teacher, who then led us down the path to AWF. As they say, “The rest is history.”
How did he get his school to help him in his goal of collecting a mile’s worth of pennies?
After visiting the AWF Web site, we learned about a mile’s worth of pennies and decided to make it our goal. We then brought mason jars with AWF labels on them and every Friday, Ty would collect the pennies. We also placed Tyler’s Big Idea in the school bulletin so parents could read about it and encourage their children to get involved. The response was amazing. The children all have little hearts of gold, or, in this case, copper and zinc.
What are some of the different things Tyler did to encourage people to participate in this fund raiser?
Tyler and I took jars along with AWF information and a picture of Ty holding a jar around to local businesses and asked them to place them out for there patrons. At one store he created a poster that read, “Please help the people in Africa, Love Tyler.” He got amazing response from that location. I also had him discuss his Big Idea to everyone we spoke with. I felt as though it was important for him to become an expert on his what he was trying to achieve. It worked.
How did Tyler feel when he realized he was going to exceed his original goal of collecting a mile’s worth of pennies?
“Excited and astonished,” he says.
What lessons did Tyler learn from this experience?
That one person can make a big difference in the lives of many.
What are of the other causes Tyler is interested in?
Tyler has begun a proposal to help fund the pay package of one teacher at a small school in Nepal. He is also very concerned about global warming and saving endangered species. Oh yes, he would like all people to stop littering.
Why does Tyler like getting involved in causes like the African Well Fund?
Because he cares deeply about people. He wants to make the world a better place.
What advice does Tyler have for other kids who want to support charities?
Stay committed and don’t give up. “Just keep moving forward,” this is his motto.
What kind of impact has Tyler’s work had on your family?
Words cannot express the impact, this experience has profoundly changed us. It really is true that you get more than you give when you do for others. On the last day of penny collection, Ty and I were going around to the classrooms and in one class everyone clapped and cheered for Ty because of his efforts. After leaving the classroom Ty said to me, “Wait a moment,” he was teary-eyed and emotional. Honestly, it was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever witnessed. This was the gift.
What advice would you give to parents who want to encourage their children to get involved in charitable causes?
Encourage them to think beyond their lives, to think about others. Find the people who need our help. Research other nations and cultures and become experts on them. Go to the places that need our help, see what it is like there. Ty and I hope to go to Africa one day. Just do something. We all can make a difference in the world, even just a penny at a time.
By Devlin Smith