ROSEMARY HARRIS: Paying it forward? Random acts of kindness? Here's one man's story that we at JR hope will create a ripple effect among our readers. And to help it along, our guest is offering five free books to commenters.
PAUL REICHERT: The holidays are prime time for acts of charity and year-end philanthropy. There are all sorts of motives. If you ask my kids, it’s to gain favor with Santa and avoid his naughty list. Others may do it to please their accountant. Whatever the reason, around this time of year people wonder whether they should be giving more, or doing more, to help those less fortunate. Quite often, though, simply giving or doing as much as you’re able, which may seem small to you, can have a huge impact – more than you may realize. That’s one message I thought kids should hear, so I took time out from my day job as a litigator with a law firm in Washington, D.C., to write and illustrate a children’s book, The Lemonade Ripple: A Sweet Story of Kindness and Charity, published this year by Sky Pony Press. In the story, one girl’s act of charity – starting a lemonade stand to raise money for a friend in need – sets off a ripple throughout her town, as more and more kids (and adults) are motivated to greater acts of charity for the same common good. It’s a simple lesson to learn, and one I wanted to expose to kids at an early age so that they’ll become life-long givers and active participants in their communities.
The Lemonade Ripple is already creating a ripple of its own. Schools have adopted the book and encouraged students to create school-wide “ripples” of community service. It’s been rewarding to see them open a coffee and doughnut stand on their street corner before they catch the school bus. Or launch a neighborhood coin drive, or host a basketball tournament in their driveway, and then pool their proceeds to donate to charity. Hopefully they have realized another theme of the book – that charity doesn’t have to be a chore; it’s a lot of fun! What kid wouldn’t have fun squirting their friends with a hose at a car wash fundraiser, or racing kayaks down the river in a charity boat race?
I was also inspired to write The Lemonade Ripple by the work of a national charity, The Foundation for Community Betterment, to which I’m donating all of the author proceeds. They make their own philanthropic ripples with short-term financial help to people who are generous with their own time or talents but who are undergoing a sudden medical or personal crisis. And they put the “fun” in fund-raising by funding their grants through social activities such as golf tournaments, casino nights, concerts, and an annual paddle race down the St. Lawrence River in upstate New York that’s captured in the story. The Foundation has donated copies of The Lemonade Ripple to libraries across the country.
So while it’s rewarding to make a big splash with a year-end donation, I’ve learned in writing my book that it’s just as gratifying to start a long-lasting ripple of generosity.
Paul Reichert is a life-long cartoonist and illustrator, but after flipping a coin between law school versus art school, Paul became a lawyer and spends his days as a litigator at a law firm in Washington, D.C. Yet he remains a cartoonist-by-night and at heart. The Lemonade Ripple is his first children’s book. Paul lives in Potomac, Maryland with his wife and two daughters. Visit him at www.lemonaderipple.com
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Has Paul started you thinking about creating your own ripple? We hope so - let us know what your ripple idea would be. And come back tomorrow for pix and all the dish from Sisters in Crime's New York Chapter holiday party...