giving back

Girl Power: Ways Young Girls Can Make a Big Difference

giving backbettering communities

We talk a lot about making a difference on this site. And we try to do a lot of things that make a difference as well. But, because we're moms, we also really want to help get children involved in the process as well, to make giving a holistic, everyday, family affair. Young sisters Delaney and Addie Kenney, from Guilford, Connecticut, have an amazing story that exemplifies what can happen when we support our kids in their efforts to help others.

Two years ago, when Delaney was nine and Addie was eight, they wanted to have a pajama party. It was pretty typical, except that they wanted benefiting others to be part of the fun. So they asked their friends to each bring a new pair of children's winter pajamas that would be donated to a local women's shelter.

“We decided it would be a good idea to have fun and help people at the same time,” Delaney said. As they planned their event, more and more people wanted to come until the guest list reached almost 40 girls, making it impossible to host at their home. The local community center, when it heard about what the girls were doing, offered the use of its space. That became a kick-off point for the exponential growth of the girls' efforts. Laurie Kenney, the girls' mother, said, “There was no stopping the girls after that!”

As often happens with things like this, it became a nucleation site for giving. They not only collected 70 pairs of pajamas, but they also collected more than 50 gently used coats for two local charities, many pounds of food for the Guilford Food Bank, and almost $80 in change for the Audubon Society’s Pennies for the Planet initiative. At the party itself, the girls made "cookies in a jar” mixes for seniors in the community, greeting cards for residents of a local retirement home, and ornaments to brighten hospital rooms. Time lapse from idea to event: nine days. Amazing.

But their giving efforts didn't stop there, and in fact, continue to this day. Because they correlated their efforts with national annual Make a Difference Day in October, their "little project-that-could" grew much bigger. After they were awarded $10,000 to give to their favorite charity by Newman's Own, they hatched the concept of the United States of Community Service, and worked to spread the pajama philanthropy concept online. In October 2011, it expanded to 38 parties in 26 states. At least 1,200 girls and boys supported 100 charities. This year, they are again being nominated for a national Make a Difference Day  award.

So, why do we tell you about Delaney and Addie? Because you can help them win that award and the money, to help them (and their parents!) support their charities, their national USCSNow nonprofit, and their growing philanthropic spirit. From February 15 through February 29th, their project will be part of a nationwide online vote at www.makeadifferenceday.com to determine the winner of the 2012 Make a Difference Day All-Star Award from USA WEEKEND magazine and $10,000 for charity from Gannett Foundation. Here is one easy way to make a big difference by supporting these amazing girls!

How are you helping your kids make a difference in their local community?

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