by Tianna G. Hansen
“How far can you grow a single penny?”
This question was the focal point of a unique project completed by the Core Creek Park’s summer camp group (part of Middletown Township Parks & Rec) and dreamt up by site supervisor Carol Garner.
Fittingly dubbed “A Little Kindness Matters,” the project began with a fun craft for the campers to design their own treasure chests in celebration of ‘Pirate Week’.
Carol then gave each child a single penny to put in their chest.
She encouraged the kids to “grow” this treasure. “I wanted them to feel like they are making a difference.”
Carol, a yoga instructor from Warrington, holds a strong belief in the good of the universe and is always seeking ways to transfer and spread kindness. “I am a firm believer when you do something for the good of yourself, others or the good of the Universe, you will always be supported.”
Her idea for this project was spawned when a telemarketer sent her a dollar bill in the mail as an attempt to entice her. “I decided since I didn’t earn it, I would keep it and allow [this dollar] to grow with any change that came across my way.”
Almost immediately, she was able to grow $1 into $5 just from collecting spare change in her purse and lying around her house.
As she later told friends over lunch about her plan, one handed her a $20 bill and encouraged her to keep going. So, she did.
Carol continued to set aside change and money that came across her path for a few months and eventually raised $150, which she donated to a local homeless shelter.
It goes to show the power that can come from a single dollar; or, in the case of the Middletown Township campers: a single penny.
After completing their treasure chests, the campers spent the next few weeks collecting change to expand each individual treasure, bringing it to the park and dropping it in a small collection bin.
Carol suggested to the kids they could complete chores at home, search the ground for spare coins, or do good deeds like help neighbors.
The campers did this, and then some. Some set up bake sales and lemonade stands, while one even completed a book marathon, reading one book every single day to earn money from his grandparents.
The container continued to fill up; one morning, Carol recounts a kind stranger at Core Creek Park saw the group and contributed $20 while walking his dog.
Kindness matters and can grow.
Altogether, the kids were able to collect quite a few ‘pennies’…3,000 in fact.
By the time the summer camp came to an end (with a final donation day of August 13th), the kids had collected and dropped off a total of $300 at Core Creek Park over the course of a couple weeks.
The money will be donated to the American Red Cross for aid in relief from natural disasters, in honor of Detective Christopher Jones of Middletown Township.
In celebration, the township invited the campers and Carol to their Board meeting on August 16th to honor their accomplishments.
Middletown Township Supervisor Tom Tosti introduced Carol, who has worked for the past 10 years as Summer Rec Site Supervisor out of the pure passion for her job.
“Kindness is contagious,” Carol said at the event. “A smile, a pat on the back, an encouraging word. In our case, one small penny and a treasure chest.”
Carol is moved by the success of this project and hopes to see it continue in future years. “I’m so proud of the kids,” she said. “I spoke with the [other] site supervisors who work for Middletown… and I suggested next year, we should all do it together and make it into a challenge!” Sounds like we should stay tuned for more piratical behavior – for a good cause!
A huge round of applause to Carol and the campers for showing just how far kindness can grow and spread. It’s a testament we all need more of in times of difficulty; hope remains and exists. Kindness matters and can always grow.