Editor's Note: This blog is written by Stacey Gadeken, The Patterson Foundation's (TPF) administrative assistant and mom extraordinaire! Organizations mentioned in this blog represent Kennedy and Avery's choices, rather than preferred status with TPF relative to all the excellent organizations participating in the Giving Challenge.


"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair." ― Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

We are certainly finding ourselves in interesting times. I know I oscillate between feeling calm and anxious, restless and productive, and hopeful and helpless. We are all trying to find ways to be helpful and contribute — even if that contribution is staying home! On April 28–29, we all have the opportunity to contribute through the Giving Challenge — even from our couch!!!

The Giving Challenge is a 24-hour giving day that brings together more than 700 local non-profits, their donors, and the community to celebrate and embrace charitable giving. The added bonus is that The Patterson Foundation will match each unique donation between $25–$100.

As adults, I know that a lot of us feel helpless and that we can't do anything, so imagine how our kids are feeling. I have two boys, and they are restless. The Giving Challenge is the perfect opportunity to help them find a way to help others — even if it is virtually — right now.

There are many ways for kids to participate this year by using their time, talents, and treasures. First, they can do some research by going to thegivingpartner.org to see the list of local non-profits participating. They can search by location, name, or type.

Almost two years ago at The Patterson Foundation, we participated in Take Your Child to Work Day. It was right before Giving Challenge 2018, and one of our activities was for the kids to look up organizations based on their interests. Participating children were gifted money by their parent or godparent to donate, and they needed to decide where they wanted it to go. Searches ranged from theater and sports to animals to different schools. Twins Kennedy and Avery Cole got the philanthropic bug and are participating again this year. I visited them via Zoom, and they shared with me which organizations they are donating to in Giving Challenge 2020 and their reasons.

They both have chosen the Humane Society of Sarasota County because their dogs and cat came from there. They volunteer at Theater Odyssey, so they will be donating to that organization too. Additionally, they picked All Faiths Food Bank because they know now is a particularly hard time for people, and they chose the Crowley Museum and Nature Center.

Each unique donor who gives between $25–$100 will have his or her donation matched, so it does not take a lot to make an impact. Everyone can be a philanthropist!

When I was talking to Kennedy, Avery, my son Wyatt, Beth Duda, and Kelli Karen (from The Patterson Foundation), we tried to brainstorm ways for kids to help get the word out about the Giving Challenge.

Right now, students are learning online, and some smaller schools meet in real-time on Zoom with their classes, so we talked about asking teachers if they could mention it. We also came up with emailing teachers to tell them about it. Based on age and parental decisions, some kids have more access to social media than others. Older kids could use their social media to promote organizations that are close to their hearts.

My older son attends Lakewood Ranch High School and has friends in the marching band. The marching band boosters are one of the non-profits in The Giving Partner. He is planning on supporting his friends and sharing about the Giving Challenge.

I know many organizations use their social media accounts to promote the challenge, so this would be an excellent way for the kids to put their social media skills to good use. Have you seen online where kids have used sidewalk chalk to leave encouraging messages to brighten people's day? Why not start decorating your sidewalk or driveway with information about the Giving Challenge?

Right now, it is hard to donate time to help organizations, so for the 24 hours beginning at noon on April 28, we can donate our treasures. Helping makes us feel good, and that is especially true for kids who likely feel like they have no control right now.

When I asked Kennedy and Avery how it makes them feel to donate their time and money to these causes, they said it makes them feel good to know that they are helping to make the world better. They know that their money is going to help people and be put to good use.

I would ask you to consider helping your child find an organization (or two) to donate to during this year's Giving Challenge if you are able. I would also ask you to discuss ways that they (and you) can also give their time and talents now and after we are free to move about.


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