Gift of giving
As of March 1, students at Soda Creek Elementary School, Strawberry Park Elementary School and the Lowell Whiteman School had collectively raised $4,241 toward local and national charities.
February total: $1,941
- Mac Skov, Strawberry Park, World Wildlife Fund (arctic fox)
- Mackenzie Ward, Soda Creek, The David Sheldrick Foundation (elephants)
- Charlotte Wilson, Soda Creek, Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter
- Kyle Taulman and Remy St. Pierre, "Lets all Play" universal playgrounds
- Issac Waters, Strawberry Park, Newborn Network
- Smith Dean, Mason Voyvadek, Eli and Ivy Gerber, Graham Patterson, Zofia Stroman, Montessori, Routt County Humane Society
- Jack Starkey, Strawberry Park, Routt County Horizons
January total: $1,000
- Kelly Strobeck, Strawberry Park, American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
- Nikolas Kocik, National Wildlife Federation (American bison)
- Autumn Hilley, Strawberry Park, Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter
- Raleigh Darcy, Born Free Wildlife Rehabilitation Routt County
December total: $200
- Olivia Hobson, Strawberry Park, World Wildlife Fund (dolphins)
- Annika Lemmer, Soda Creek, World Wildlife Fund (arctic fox)
November total: $600
- Will Eck, Soda Creek, Cure Autism Now
- Mac Moody, Soda Creek, Nothing But Nets, and the Nature Conservancy
- Annie Hager and Ella Royer, Kids Kabin Preschool, Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter
October total: $400
- Emma Wilson and Kayla Guettich, Steamboat Springs Middle School, Steamboat Springs Animal Shelter
Steamboat Springs When Lisa Gamber began encouraging Steamboat Springs students in October to give rather than receive at birthday parties, she hoped to raise $4,000 for charities this year. Five months later, students have met and exceeded those expectations.
As of March 1, students at Soda Creek Elementary School, Strawberry Park Elementary School and the Lowell Whiteman School had collectively raised $4,241, said Gamber, who is coordinating the Kids Give program.
"I just get flooded with such a great feeling to know there are these little giving souls out there doing such great things," said Gamber, whose son Max raised money last year to adopt a pair of gorillas in Africa. This year, Max plans to adopt a polar bear.
Kids Give has put up posters in all the schools showing progress toward the $4,000 goal, which Gamber said she now hopes to double by the end of the school year. The local Lions Club also will match birthday party donations to local charities, up to $100.
Kelly Taulman, whose son Kyle had a joint birthday party Feb. 17 with his friend Remy St. Pierre, said the parties teach social responsibility and let children choose whether to participate.
"I think all of our kids are very blessed and have more things than any of them need," said Taulman, who noted it's becoming very difficult to find meaningful presents for her son's friends for $10 or $15. "This is a really great way for kids to give back and to have fun with friends with something that is not necessary about gifts."
Kyle and Remy raised more than $1,000 for the "Let's All Play" committee, which is raising funds for playgrounds at Strawberry Park and Soda Creek that are accessible to all children, including those with disabilities.
Gamber said parents often play a role in steering a child's charitable choice, but the decision ultimately is up to the student.
"We ask, 'Do you want to help people, or do you want to help animals?'" she said. "The kids are smart enough where they can take it from there."
Mac Skov's birthday party was like most other parties. The second-grader had a piÃ±ata, played pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey and went sledding. But in lieu of presents, Mac raised money for arctic foxes through the World Wildlife Fund.
"I'm really into the arctic stuff : and I thought the arctic fox looked cool," he said. "I had a friend who came that now wants to adopt a tiger for his birthday : but I like anything related to the dog family."
Gamber said there also are updates in school newsletters about kids who have donated money at their birthday parties and which charity they chose.
"We are not going to list how much money each party raised because I don't care if they raised $10 or $1,000, they are learning the same stuff about philanthropy and giving," she said. "They are making the same sacrifices. That is the value, not the dollar amount."