Make a Valentine, Make the World a Better Place
February 14, 2012 BY Amy Graff
In the midst of all the candy conversation hearts, Sponge Bob cards and silvery red balloons, it’s hard to find the meaning of Valentine’s Day. This hallmark holiday has become muddied by a glut of products that you face any time you step inside a big box-store in February.
This year, I was determined to push the commercialism to the side and help my kids find deeper meaning in Valentine’s Day. I wanted them to have fun making cards and passing them out to friends at school, but I also wanted them to realize that their love could be spread outside their community—and across the world to kids who desperately need more love.
And so my kids and I decided to throw a Valentine-making party to benefit children in developing countries. Inspired by the United Nation Foundation’s Shot@Life campaign, we invited friends to donate $20 to vaccinate a child. In return, they could drop their kids off at our house for an afternoon of making Valentines.
I sent out an Evite, calling the party, Make a Valentine, Make the World a Better Place, and explaining the event: “Valentine's Day is about spreading love and so we're throwing a Valentine-making party designed to send some love to kids in developing countries.”
I was unsure how friends would respond. The only fundraiser I’d ever thrown benefitted local public schools. How would they respond to a fundraiser for children living across the globe?
Actually, very positively.
People quickly started RSVPing and posting thoughtful comments on the invite:
- “What a beautiful thing you're doing Amy! Thank you for including us.”
- “Annabella would be honored to be part of this. Sounds totally amazing.”
- “That's an amazing party!!!…I'd like to follow in your footsteps and do a similar one at our place!! No BS with you Amy - you definitely walk the talk!!”
Days before the party, 13 kids were signed up. That was $260.
All the guests arrived and by 3 p.m., the kids were fully focused on gluing paper hearts and this lasted for a full hour.
The dining room table was filled with construction paper, glitter, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, and lots of random recycled scraps. We made sure that every kid had his own pair of scissors (borrowed these from a local preschool!). Several adults helped manage the kids, and we made sample cards for the children to copy—although they mainly came up with their own creative ideas.
By 4 p.m., we were done making Valentines and everyone gathered in the living room. We showed the kids the Shot@Life video and talked about the importance of caring for kids who are less fortunate. I started by talking about the United Nations and how it’s like a club that countries all over the world can join. I explained that countries, just like kids on the playground, sometimes get into disagreements, and how the United Nations acts as a peacekeeper to stop those fights. One kid chimed in, “I wish we had the United Nations on the playground.”
I then explained how the United Nations has found that countries get along better when they take care of one another—when they help take care of one another’s children, making sure that all kids around the world are healthy and safe. And that’s where the Foundation and the Shot@Life campaign come in. This new movement is helping to protect kids worldwide by providing lifesaving vaccines. I explained why they’re so lucky because they all have the opportunity to get their shots here in the United States and they’re protected from terrible diseases such as polio.
I’m not going to lie and say that all the kids in the room followed this explanation, but the kids were fully engaged and listening to every word I said. And I knew that I had gotten through when later that day my daughter went into her room and brought out $2. “I want to give this to Shot@Life,” she said.
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