L’Shanah Tovah – For a Good Year

We should turn over the world to children.  I think we’d be a lot better off.

In a time when international tensions had everyone on edge, I spent a day with the 200+ students at Pardes Jewish Day School in Scottsdale, Arizona and any worries I may have had about the future of our world melted away.  And what a great way to start the Jewish New Year. They taught me about Tzedakah (justice) and Tikkun Olam (healing the world) and they asked me all about GO Campaign and philanthropy and how they can be better citizens of the world.  And their questions were smart.  More than one kid wanted to know how a non-profit could operate if it didn’t make any profit. In effect, they were recognizing the importance of a nonprofit’s infrastructure and the need for a nonprofit to spend some money on itself in order to operate effectively – an important message that is often lost on less-sophisticated donors.

And yes, these kids are donors.  They participate annually in a General Mills box-top collection that allows them to earn money, and they voted to give this year’s check to GO Campaign, and in particular to our partner in Kenya – the KACH orphanage – and the campaign to raise enough money to have a rain-catchment system for clean water.  Not only did they donate that money, but two third-graders stepped up and spontaneously gave me their prized home-made colorful Rainbow Loom bracelets (the latest craze) to take with me on my next trip to Africa, and their generosity inspired others around them to join in, and now there’s talk of the entire school making bracelets, sending them over to one of GO’s partners in Africa with instructions on how the kids in Africa can make them for themselves and possibly sell them at market to make generate some income for their school or orphanage.

I gave a speech to the entire school body in the morning. Later in the day, each class (K-8) shared with me their own ideas for a nonprofit and asked really smart questions about how they could go about that and whether it would make sense to start their own nonprofit (like I did when I first came back from Africa) or whether they should join forces with an existing nonprofit. Each class had a different cause. One class wanted to cure cancer, another wanted to help homeless youth in Phoenix, and yet another wanted to send medicine to Lebanon and Jordan for the Syrian refugee children. Like I said, if the world were in the hands of these kids, we’d all be in a much better place.

The invitation to speak at the school came from Vered Kogan, a super-mom who volunteers at the school and runs the box-top program.  She had learned of GO Campaign because her friend Alli had read about us in tweets and Facebook posts from Beachbody and P90X creator (and GO Board Member) Tony Horton. Yet another example of how you don’t need to give money to have impact. Alli said something to Vered, who brought the idea to the school, who presented some options to the kids, and because of that awareness-raising and spreading the word of GO, kids in Phoenix are now all abuzz about how to help their community and the world, and kids in Africa are that much closer to getting clean water.  It doesn’t get much better than that.