A few months ago, I got an email from Crate & Barrel thanking me for my purchases over the past year -- in other words, giving me props for snapping up the clearance page stuff other people passed on. They offered me a $25 gift card to spend how I saw fit at DonorsChoose.org. At first, I thought it might be a bit of a bogus cross-promotion where I'd click a button and wind up inadvertantly agreeing to buy an $800 patio loveseat. So, of course, I did it anyway. (I've since learned that this is an award-winning effort Crate & Barrel's been making for the past few years, issuing these gift cards so that customers can help direct how the company spends its charitable contributions. Which I think is very cool. Would that more companies follow suit.)
Anyway, I followed the DonorsChoose.org link and was intrigued to find that this is a website where teachers, mostly from high poverty schools,Â post pleas for financial help purchasing specific supplies -- books, teaching tools, etc. I picked a project somewhat randomly. It was near the top of the list and it caught my eye. A teacher in Northern California needed $24 more to meet her goal of buying copies of Judy Blume's Superfudge for her class.
I love this one from my pal, Sal. Why does he like books? "Maybe because some are funny."
The project piqued my interest on three different levels. First, my mother was a teacher who felt very passionately about imparting to her students the love of reading. I figured my meager and free (to me) donation would honor her in some small way. Second, I was nuts about Judy Blume's books as a kid and I remember Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing and Superfudge were particular faves. And third, my donation would complete the amount the teacher requested and I do like to be a closer!
I'd completely forgotten about the project I'd selected when I fetched my mail today. In it I found a thick white envelope from DonorsChoose.org and with the following words printed on the outside:Â "Hurray! Your student thank-you letters for your donation have arrived!" I vaguely recalled that this was part of the deal -- getting a thank you from the class or the teacher.
"When I grow up I'm going to be just like you - donate stuff to class rooms. Sincerely, Eunice." Yes, Eunice, because that's what I am best known for.
Still, I didn't expect what I found inside -- 24 individual hand-written thank you notes addressed to me. With names and drawings and notes about why they liked the book. I should mention that I'm an unbelievable sucker for a thank you note. I was raised in a household where writing them was mandatory and to skip them an unthinkable sin on par with putting your elbows on the table during dinner time. (Guess you had to be there.) Now it seems there are so few people who write them that to get any at all is always a treat. To get a thick envelope full of them from a bunch of little kids who are loving their books is pretty remarkable.
Kids are so wise, aren't they?
I'm not saying the expectation of thanks is a reason to consider donating to DonorsChoose.org. I'm just saying it doesn't hurt.