When six-year-old Andrew Conn entered Cathy Andry’s kindergarten class at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy in 2013, she never dreamed that a simple conversation would grow into a decade-long service learning opportunity for the kids in her class.
Andrew told Miss Cathy about his grandmother, Joan, and about how Joan was helping kids in Haiti through Restavek Freedom Foundation. Before she knew it, Cathy found herself at a benefit for Restavek Freedom to learn more about the mission.
“I was left thinking, you know, what could our young kindergarteners in my class do [to get involved] at a child-appropriate level?” Cathy recalls.
That’s how Spare Change for World Change was born.
“We said here’s what we’re going to do: we’re going to do small jobs around the house, like helping fold the laundry, wash the dishes, and sweep the floors, and we will do that for spare change,” Cathy says.
“I talk to them about how we’re getting spare change for the jobs that we do, but how some children living in Haiti aren’t getting money for the jobs that they’re doing. And they’re so busy with all their jobs, they don’t get to go to school. They might not have the same things that you do, the toys or the many different changes of clothing. I try to affect their hearts without breaking their hearts – you have to be so careful when they’re so young.”
At the beginning of each school year, Cathy introduces Spare Change for World Change to her class as a way for them to help children in Haiti. As the school year goes on, the children collect their spare change in a Pringles can that they decorate themselves.
“They keep their collection can at home, and they keep filling it,” Cathy says. “And then at the end of the year they bring in their Pringles cans, and we count up all the coins.”
After the students sort and count their coins at the end of the year, Cathy invites Emily and Joan from Restavek Freedom to come speak to the class and answer questions the kids may have about children in Haiti.
“They get it, they really do,” Cathy says. “And I always invite the parents to come and hear from Joan and Emily as well, since they’ve been involved throughout the year with their child.”
When asked how Spare Change for World Change has grown and changed over the years, Cathy laughs. “Well, I always feel sorry for Emily,” she says, “because I’m presenting her with, like, a hundred pounds of coins, you know. But what I found was, I think it was the first year, we rolled all the coins and I tried to make things easy by writing a check or something. And the children didn’t feel like that was their money, because they’re very literal. It wasn’t the same. They needed to see those coins that they had in their Pringles cans given to that person.”
The sense of pride the children feel after they present their coins to Emily and Joan is palpable, Cathy says. “I never get tired of seeing how much joy they seem to be having. I show them how big they are, and then I show them the world. And I tell them, you know, some people think you’re too little to help this big world, but you did. And their smiles, they’re just beaming. And it’s real – they’ve really impacted the world. They’ve had that opportunity to do that.”
For more pictures of Spare Change for World Change over the past 10 years, visit the Restavek Freedom Facebook page.