Layla Stamp wanted to be a nurse when she grew up. She would often tell us, “I want to take care of all the sick kids in the hospital.” She knew, even at 4-years-old, that kids shouldn’t be sick and stay for a long time at the hospital. Her ability to stay positive, always smile and make a new friend are the things we strive to live out through Layla’s Legacy.
But those characteristics aren’t special only to Layla. Kids are resilient, empathetic and natural helpers, and here at Layla’s Legacy, we know that kids can help kids. Statistics show that 1 in 285 children will be diagnosed with childhood cancer by the time they are 19 years old. With those odds, the likelihood of your child knowing someone with cancer is high. It’s important for adults to empower our children to help their peers. Let them engage in fundraisers to support their friend or kids at your local children’s hospital. Here are a few ideas to get the creative juices flowing:
If I listed out each one individually, we could have a Top 50 list, but let’s just lump them all together. Whether it’s a change drive (gathering loose change for donation), gift card drive (generic cards, gas cards, restaurant cards), a book drive (new books are required for hospital donations) or a toy drive (again, new), drives are a great way to make a big impact and involve a large community. You can even add a competitive component by making it a contest between classes, grade levels, schools, etc. The winner gets a pizza party, extra time at recess or a “free dress day” at school. Honestly, the possibilities are endless.
2. Silent auction or raffle:
I think most people get nervous at the thought of organizing a silent auction. They do take effort and a number of volunteers, but the return is worth it! The biggest piece of advice I can give on silent auctions is to have something for everyone. Men, women, young, old, inexpensive, high-roller. Kids can easily solicit donations from local businesses or offer services of their own for sale (see #9), plus help advertise and sell tickets.
3. Gold Out games
Want a way to involve an entire school fan-base? This is it! You may have seen “Pink Outs” at schools in the past, and this is the same concept, except Gold! Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is in September, so it’s the perfect time for a Gold Out football or volleyball game. When we did one at our school there were t-shirts sales, face painting, a bake sale, food truck, and pony rides. We said, “go big or go home!”
Not that every school could or would go that far, but the message is far more important than the delivery. Our kids’ lives matter. And losing even one to childhood cancer is unacceptable when only 4% of our federal budget for cancer research is directed to pediatrics.
4. Clean out those closets
With Marie Kondo and tidying up all the rage these days, now is the perfect time to use your old stuff to do some good. Sites like eBay and Poshmark will let you sell online and donate the proceeds to a charity of your choice. Or skip the middle man and have an old-fashioned yard sale making the donation directly to your favorite charity.
5. Talent show
How much do kids love to show off their talents in front of other people? Many of the schools in our area will do a talent show to raise money for the parent/teach organizations, so why not take that idea and use it for a charity fundraiser. Or skip the big production and have a backyard talent show. Get all the neighborhood kids together and charge friends and families for admissions and refreshments! Lights, music, action!
6. Treat stand
#5 is a great segway into #6. Any sort of treat stand is always a big hit. Whether it’s lemonade, hot cocoa, a bake sale or snow cones. Even a “bake-off” would be fun! Give it a theme like “Lemonade for Leukemia” or “Baking for Brain Tumors” to engage your donors in what you’re raising money for and you’ll have them lined up around the block.
7. Ninja-style course
This is an idea inspired by Bonfire.com. Use your local playground or gym to create a ninja warrior course out of ropes, cones, monkey bars and maybe even a bouncy slide. Have contestants pay to register as singles or a team. Set the date and compete! Don’t forget a fun prize for the winners.
8. Card Writing Campaign
Being in the hospital is hard for kids. They miss their friends and feel isolated. Kids can organize a card writing campaign for their friend who is sick or for all the kids at the hospital. We met a group of students who were volunteering at Give Kids The World on our Make-A-Wish trip and they went home and wrote letters and cards to Layla. I still have all of them because it was such a kind and thoughtful gesture.
9. Neighborhood helper
Kids are great at doing chores that adults loathe. The novelty of mowing the lawn or picking up after the dog hasn’t worn off yet, plus they (usually) don’t charge as much. If your child has an entrepreneurial spirit, let them sell their talents around the neighborhood to raise money for charity. You can help them create a flyer and go door-to-door letting all the neighbors know about what they are up to.
10. Opt for donations instead of gifts
We’ve all seen “in lieu of gifts” on an invitation, but here’s a fun twist our friends used at their sons sixth birthday party. Mom divided up the guest list alphabetically and asked anyone with the last name A-M to please bring a gift for her son. N-Z would bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Layla’s Legacy. We had a mini toy drive in October!
We’d love to hear your ideas! Let us know what great ways your kids are making an impact and helping kids in their community.