Posted on October 27, 2016
Thank you so much for all your support this past week of the 3/4 students' introduction to social entrepreneurship! I find that every year, not only did the sale benefit UNICEF, but also our Mid-Pacific community.
I overheard one fourth grader say excitedly, "This is the best part of CE!" The third and fourth graders have a grand time making their products during CE class. On the day of the sale, they are so kind when helping the younger children with their purchases. (Customer service!) During weekly 'Ohana Time, where we share our feelings, many first and second graders shared that they were happy because today was the UNICEF sale.
Every year I wonder how all the real-life entrepreneurs do it, and I have increased respect for all the business people out there. I mean, I buy otter pops every year, and some years we sell out and other years we don't. Now when I go out to eat a poke bowl, I wonder: how do the people selling expensive ahi know how much to buy each day? And to multiply that times the myriad of perishable ingredients they use in their restaurant...! If there are entrepreneurial parents out there who would like to share their wisdom with the students and me, please email me!
Beyond the more obvious benefits of the satisfaction of helping UNICEF, I think what surprised me when I first starting doing the UNICEF sale was how it also benefitted the student customers who came to the sale. It seems like more and more every year, the children look at me with a quizzical look when I talk about bringing $5 to the sale and how to do change. Cash? Change? It seems more foreign to students now than even ten years ago. This is understandable, seeing how more parents use credit and debit cards. (United miles or Costco cash back, anyone?) Also, children don't bike to their neighborhood store after school to buy their own snack any more like they used to back in the day. (My husband has such fond memories of biking with friends to Toyo's in Manoa to buy Icee, crack seed, and Horlicks with the money he had earned from his newspaper route.) (Isn't it amazing that our bodies thrived on a diet of kakimochi and Zots?) Even today, a couple of students showed me some coins in their ziploc bag and asked me, "Is this $1?" I told them, yes, four quarters equals $1. Thus the UNICEF sale actually becomes a mini math lesson, unbeknownst to the participants.
The children love having free reign over what they can spend with their $5. I am assuming that their parents are assuming this $5 is a donation to UNICEF, thus children can spend their money on whatever their hearts desire -- woohoo! -- gently-used Pokemon cards, a squishy stress ball made out of a balloon and flour, a shiny rock! You should see their smiles! If their popsicle stick and loom band catapult breaks in a month, it's ok, because that $1 was a donation to UNICEF. This is one big reason why we limit the sale to $5 (some students complain to me that they want to spend much more), because it seems to be an acceptable amount for elementary-aged children to make independent choices in their purchases. I realize this is a fundraiser for UNICEF, and yet as always, our first priority is to our Mid-Pacific families. Thus what used to be the weekly twenty-five cent adventure/splurge to buy what you want from Toyo's (remember how excited you'd be to walk around the crack seed store by yourself and be able to choose?) has become our annual UNICEF sale.
I also find it interesting to see how children are different. Some go and spend their $5 in minutes, others walk around and look at all the various items, taking their time to choose and buy. (Thus the second reason why the limit is $5 -- it would take longer than the morning recess time for children to finalize their purchases.) I have overheard Mrs. Matsumoto emphasize to her students that they don't have to spend all their money; it's ok to bring some home. Although I want to tell Mrs. Matsumoto, wait, it's a fundraiser for UNICEF, I also understand that she is trying to teach the kindergartners a life lesson, and that's more important.
And although of course I try not to set the third and fourth graders up for disappointment (which is why we do surveys before choosing their products, to naturally and gently weed out products that may not prove popular), inevitably some products that even I thought would be successful don't make as much money as the child hoped. Thus the beauty of social entrepreneurship: EVERY DOLLAR goes to benefit children who don't have clean water, medicine, food, or shelter. EVERY DOLLAR. Whether their business made $1 or $50, every dollar that they earned will go to help children all over the world. Every Mid-Pacific third and fourth grader - eight and nine-year olds! - is making a difference in another child's life in Nicaragua and Mauritania. How empowering is that?!
P.S. For the younger students who are doing optional extra chores at home to earn money to put into their orange UNICEF boxes, the boxes are due back to Ms. Kelli next week Friday, November 4. I absolutely love hearing how the children are folding towels, watering plants, feeding the cat -- helping their families AND helping children all over the world! Again, please know that I am not emphasizing any particular dollar amount to the children; I am more than delighted to hear about their desire to take action and help others.