Saturday, September 29, 2012

Doing Well by Doing Good

Toby has always been a caring little guy, he often asks about how he can help out and he always showed a big interest in my non-profit related work and our giving as a family. At the end of last school year we were going through his documents and we found a certificate of appreciation for his involvement in CAS - the school community action group. We had no idea that he had signed up for this and spent the whole year working with fellow students to raise awareness and solicit donations of time & treasure to support the community school and orphanage. Looking back we should have asked more about it when he did his speech about a donation drive, but we had assumed it was a classroom thing rather than extra-curricular. He got some lovely feedback on his end of year report and we were really inspired by the fact that he did this all on his own and never looked for recognition from us or others.

When school started in August I encouraged Toby to sign up for CAS again this year. His two best friends were no longer in India and I think that partly because of that, and also because there was a new teacher coordinating, he decided not to do it. Typical Toby style, I didn't find out about that until after a few weeks when I asked what they were up to. I didn't want to push it, but told him that I was surprised as he had enjoyed it so much last year and that at the very least he should go and meet the new teacher and find out more. The subject never came up again...

... until this past Tuesday when the following conversation happened about 7:00pm -
T: Mum
E: Yes
T: I need 50 cupcakes for a fundraiser at school on Thursday
E: Oh, where are you planning to get those? It is pretty late tonight and you have after school swimming tomorrow
T: Um... I thought you would make them for me... please?
E: I guess I can do that, a fundraiser?
T: yes
E: Fine - but you'll have to get on your scooter and head down to the shop for butter, eggs and some sugar
T: OK... Mum?.. thanks [hug]

There was, of course, no written notice about any of this in his school diary, so I resorted to Facebook to ask if any other Indus parents has been asked to magic up said cupcakes, or if it was merely a ploy to get better snacks. Somewhat unhelpfully I got no confirmation, but a lot of status likes.

So, Wednesday morning I get going and churn out 50 assorted cupcakes:
Photo: Toby's snack... choc with white choc and gems; choc with choc chips and lemon with gummi bears.

Small digression on the odd 5 chocolate ones. I made two sets of batter, one chocolate and one lemon. I glazed the lemon cupcakes with a lemon glaze and added gummi bears as they were all I had and I thought they would attract kids to buy the cake. The chocolate ones I did with a white chocolate frosting and gems, as I had some white choc left from Dara's birthday cake. Turns out, I was 5 cakes short with the frosting needed and was too lazy to manage another set of buttercream, so just semi-melted some choc chips and mixed with some icing sugar for an emergency glaze. Oh, and ways to annoy your housekeeper #457: spend all morning baking in the kitchen, make a huge mess and insist on cleaning it up yourself. At one point she was pulling my hands out the sink as I was trying to wash up a bowl...

When Toby staggers in after swimming at about 7:15 he goes straight to the kitchen to inspect the cakes. Over the evening meal we try to get more information. Turns out this is not a class thing, but a CAS project by a small group of 3rd, 4th & 5th graders.

E: I thought you decided not to do that this year
T: Well, I did what you said and I went to see the new teacher and I thought that she was very organized and would probably be a good coordinator and so I joined and the sale is what we are doing.
E: Oh, well that's good
T: yes, we had to see Miss Arpoorva (head of primary school) and tell her about our plan and she said it all sounded really good
E: are you only selling cakes?
T: No, mostly cakes, but one kid can make origami ninja stars and so he'll sell those for Rs5 and I think there are some pencils too. I'm bringing cupcakes and Shrikar is bringing brownies
E: I have not seen anything about the sale how are kids finding out?
T: oh, well we went to the computer place and asked the man there to design and print some posters and we have put them up around the school, and then some of us went to the middle school classrooms to make an announcement. The thing is it is at lunch and so I won't get to have a lunch break, but that's OK.

It was a two day sale and they had a goal of Rs 2000. Day 1 (cupcake day) they sold out of cakes in 15 minutes and made Rs 1958. Apparently the emergency choc glaze sold out first... typical..., and they pretended they were brownies as the actual brownies were forgotten at home. They said they just had low stock. (I got very careful feedback about the cakes. The choc white choc were very popular and tasty. Students thought the gummi bears were a nice touch on the lemon cakes, but that the glaze was not that tasty.) Day 2 went less well as there was ice cream for dessert at school so fewer kids looking for a tasty treat, but they still exceeded their goal.

Leadership is a core part of the curriculum at Toby's school - one of the reasons were are happy we chose it and we got a lovely email from Toby's class teacher:

I just wanted to let you know how proud I was of the way that Toby and his team conceptualised, planned and executed their fundraiser today. We do have some budding entrepreneurs in our midst! I would really like to help them develop these skills and look forward to working with them on this in the coming months. Many thanks to you as well for supporting them in their endeavour. Seeing their enthusiasm has inspired many other students in our class too. They are already discussing their ideas for taking action and some of their business plans have already come in. I am so looking forward to seeing them come to life. 

Toby is reluctant to take credit for leading it, he says that they really all did it together and that the 3rd grader was "really very helpful". Well, we love that our Toby is really very helpful - at least some of the time.

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