Teaching the value of giving… through prom!

Katelyn Sweeney

Passing good values on to our children is something we strive for as parents. You want your kids to see the intrinsic worth in people regardless of appearance or belief. You want your kids to understand the importance of helping those who are less fortunate than they. You want your kids to care.

That’s what I strive for. Often, though, I feel I am just not getting it done. The days are busy and filled with so many seemingly important things. Taking time to model, teach, and reinforce good values becomes an afterthought, something still on my to-do list at the end of the day. Then I encounter a family like the Sweeneys, and I’m inspired to try harder!

The Sweeney family are no strangers to conveying the values of giving to their children. You know it’s happening because of the actions of their kids — kids who find creative and innovative ways to raise funds for the causes for which they have a passion.

I recently learned of yet another amazing example from the Sweeneys, where their daughter turned prom — typically an extremely expensive endeavor — into a way to support a cause through CURE International. Here’s the story, straight from Michele Sweeney, about what her daughter, Katelyn, came up with:

“Typically for prom, girls here are spending upwards of $600-$800 on a dress, manicure, pedicure, hair styling, and accessories. As prom excitement grew in her circle of friends, Katelyn expressed her dismay about the amount of money being spent, while ‘children are literally starving in Africa.’ She determined that she would spend no more than $100 on a dress and asked me to donate the balance of what a dress normally would cost to CURE. I encouraged her. However, having seen the price tags on dresses at the mall, I also encouraged her to set a higher, more realistic target for a dress price. But, no, Katelyn was adamant. She had prayed about it. So, one weekend, off we went to the mall — only to see dress after dress for $250-$300. Then, over to a bridal shop where the prices got even higher. At the bridal shop, we found a dress that looked beautiful. Without either of us looking at the price tag, she tried it on. It was perfect for her. I decided that I was buying it, regardless of price. To my complete surprise, it was $99! God is amazing, and I am again humbled.

“Here is a picture of Katelyn with her ‘work crew,’ sisters Jess and Caroline, who did her hair and nails in lieu of going to nail and hair salons, and her brother, Thomas, who mopped and swept the floor and cleaned the kitchen so we could host the pre-party at our house instead of at a venue. All the money saved was donated to CURE – a great cause!”

Katelyn's "work crew"

Thank you, Katelyn, for your creativity, and Michelle, for supporting her passion to give!

I see three clear takeaways from this story that I can apply in my own efforts to teach the value of giving to my kids.

  1. Inculcate a passion around a specific need.  For the Sweeneys, that need is the plight of children in the developing world. It’s something they care deeply about, and they’ve demonstrated their passion in consistent, repetitive ways that have passed it on to their children. For your family, it might be hunger, polution, an endangered species, or any of a number of other causes.
  2. Find an organization that meets that need. The Sweeneys have connected with CURE, an organization that focuses exclusively on meeting the medical needs of children in the developing world. Finding an organization that is effective and accountable gives you a trusted way to channel your passion, and it demonstrates for your kids that you care about backing your words with action.
  3. Unleash the creativity! Support your kids fully. In this example and in others, the Sweeney kids have decided to do something about their cause and have come up with creative solutions to achieve that end. They key to success, though, is that their parents have stepped up to the plate and provided them full support. This has both reinforced that they were doing the right thing and has provided the encouragement they need to keep going. Whatever ideas your kids come up with, engage them and watch the creativity really take root!

How about you? What ideas can you and your kids come up with to creatively support the work of an organization like CURE? Share them in the comments!

Originally posted at: http://cure.org/blog/2013/09/teaching-the-value-of-giving-through-prom/.

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