|The Gift Guide invites Canadians of ALL ages to join the journey to end poverty.
Written by: Mike Prins
We started this project to help other people, but in turn we were helped by friends and neighbours. - Jin, Sophia’s mom
How many bottles does it take to buy a $25 Pair of Chickens?
Just ask Sophia and she’ll tell you roughly 250. Although, when she first started collecting bottles in 2017 in order to support the FH Gift Guide, it was double that!
Sophia and her mom, Jin, had been working together to collect bottles for a school program her mom volunteered with. But, recently, that program was discontinued and they were left looking for another meaningful cause. Jin and her husband liked their kids to have a regular chore like can collecting, but wanted it to be for more than just personal spending money.
They knew the benefits of collecting cans could be so much more - both for their own kids and for others.
Thanks to the MB Herald, Sophia and her little brother Christopher stumbled upon the bright colours, funny animals, and family-friendly pages of the Food for the Hungry (FH) Gifts for Change Gift Guide. “I really liked the stickers!” exclaimed 11-year-old Sophia.
As they paged through the gifts in the Gift Guide, they got excited about such a fun way to help others.
Sophia started collecting bottles from parks, sidewalks, neighbours - anywhere! - and recycling them to buy ever-increasingly expensive Gift Guide gifts. When their neighbours caught onto what the kids were up to, they started helping, too.
In Sophia's first year, she quickly collected enough for a $25 Pair of Chickens. After that success, she set goals for $40 Medicine then a $75 Clean Water Tap! Next, Sophia easily recycled enough bottles to buy $30 School Supplies. Starting this past January, she persevered for seven months to raise $160 for a Dairy Cow. “It’s a bit of work, five and 10 cents at a time. The big, heavy bottles are the best to find!”
This year also marked the first time seven-year-old Christopher joined his sister in collecting bottles for a good cause. Jin recommended he start with a realistic goal like $25 but Christopher insisted on a $50 Pair of Pigs. He reached his goal in just five months! “It’s great to get money!” he grins.
Jin is thrilled with the positive impact the Gift Guide is having on her kids, “Helping others is always good. I hope other kids out there might be encouraged to try this, or have other creative ways to help others!”
When the family goes for a walk, they bring a bag to collect discarded bottles in the park or along the sidewalk. It really adds up! Jin recently checked her local bottle depot account. Through such simple practices, their family has collectively brought in over 5,000 containers the last three years!
Their actions not only support families working to overcome poverty, they also have a positive impact in their community, cleaning up rubbish and setting an example for neighbours. “While out collecting the park, I heard one person thank the children for picking up garbage!” Jin says.
Some neighbours recently saw the kids collecting bottles on recycling days, and came to the door to ask about it. When Jin explained the Gift Guide and how FH helps communities stuck in poverty, the neighbours wanted to regularly contribute to Sophia and Christopher’s collection. “We started this project to help other people, but in turn we were helped by friends and neighbours,” Jin says, amazed at the far-reaching effects of their simple efforts.
As the kids are getting older and realizing the power of money, Jin has suggested a new approach to encourage them to continue setting challenging goals while practicing financial responsibility. Everything the kids collect over $100 in bottle returns will be split 50/50 between their personal savings and a family in need through the Gift Guide.
This fall, Sophia and Christopher will combine their efforts to recycle enough bottles to buy a $2,500 Water Well!
Their mom is encouraging him to consider $25 Sports Equipment, however, just in case he doesn’t quite hit that amount.