I'm about to tell you the story of my most memorable stuffed animal toy growing up. Before I launch into the story I need to mention something important... I was OBSESSED with stuffed animals when I was little. For about a year I made my bed by carefully placing every single one of my stuffed animals on it, which took about 15 minutes every morning. And every time my family went on vacation I had one of my stuffies with me.
So basically I love(d) stuffies. There was one stuffy in particular that I absolutely cherished. It was this cuddly purple bear from build a bear, which I made when I was about ten years old. It was a lot like all of my other teddy bears except for the story behind how I got it.
Me carrying around a stuffy in hawaii.
PS - I searched and searched for a picture of my purple bear but I came up empty handed, so I had to settle for pictures of me lugging around my stuffies on family vacations.
Taking a small story detour, my parents are both accounts and found some really neat ways to impart their financial wisdom on their young children. As soon as Tasha (my older sister) and I started earning allowance money we had to do our accounting. That meant keeping track of how much we earned each week. To get in the habit of saving we put 30% of our earnings into our savings (back in the good old days this meant a wopping $3.00 went into a ziploc bag labelled "SAVINGS" once a week). Also, to teach us the importance of giving my parents encouraged us to put 20% of our earnings into a donation fund (which meant putting $2.00 a week into the ziploc bag labelled, you guessed it, "DONATIONS").
Once we collected enough money in our donation funds we would get to choose which charity we wanted to donate to. This was always the best part because, lets be honest, as a kid it's pretty exciting to have that much responsibility.
Back to my favourite purple bear, one year I saw this sign at build-a-bear showing their new purple teddy bear. The special thing about it, 100% of the proceeds from that bear went to charity. I told my parents about it and asked if I could use my charity money to buy the purple bear. I was worried that my parents would say no because I was using my donation money to buy myself something, but instead they said that I was thinking of a great way to make donating to charity special for me. They said yes and we spent an afternoon at build-a-bear creating my special purple bear.
Me carrying around a stuffy in the maritimes.
Looking back on it, I would love to think that I was completely focused on the donation but I know that as a kid I was also just really excited that I found a way to get something with the money from my donation fund. Although that may seem insincere and like a bad lesson to teach a kid, I actually think it was really great. My parents found a way to make me excited about donating to charity. It wasn't a chore or like I was losing money. Plus, most of the time I did donated directly to a charity.
Because my parents found fun ways to make donating to charity an everyday part of my life, I still donate as an adult. I find charities that mean a lot to me (like WE Charity) and I also find ways to make donating fun for myself. For example, when I was living in England I volunteered for a charity called the Selly Oak Live at Home Scheme, which helped organize activities for the elderly people in my community. Most of the time I volunteered my time but they also ran big events once a year. In 2018 I abseiled down a 200ft building and ended up raising £550 for my group! This was kind of the double whammy of donations; the money went to the charity that meant the world to me in England and I also got to do something super cool (and only partially terrifying).
Me abseiling for the Selly Oak Live at Home Scheme in England.
Knowing how my parents lessons on accounting and donation funds affected me as a child and now an adult, I am certain that when I have children of my own I want to share the same lessons with them. I want to encourage them to give some of their money to charities. I want to teach them how to research different charities and find charities that mean something special to them. And I definitely want to make sure to encourage them to think outside the box and find ways of giving that are a little bit different!
Just a side note... I still do my accounting every month but now I have a bank account and grown up investments instead of ziploc bags. *giggle*
Disclaimer: As ever, everything said in this post are my own thoughts. I haven't been given any compensation for the ideas or information that I share here.
I am Kaitlyn, the K in DLTK, and I've been working for the family website since I could hold a crayon. Now I am all grown up and I live with my partner, Callum, and our adorable cat, Juicebox! When I'm not helping my parents on the site, I am studying psychology at the University of Calgary. I love my work and my studies, but when I can I love to head out to the mountains and enjoy the outdoors! You can connect with me on Facebook or Instagram. You can also follow my cute kitty, Juicebox, on Instagram.