Monday, April 5, 2010

Rice & Beans, Beans & Rice

It's hard to imagine my 3 picky eaters chowing down rice and beans for 3 meals, let alone 25 dinners in a row. But that's just what 8-year-old Riley Goodfellow (pictured) did, along with a corps of kid (and adult) family members and friends, to provide clean water for children in the developing world.

On a family trip to Guatemala, Riley was saddened to learn that 5,000 kids a day die from lack of clean water and basic sanitation. To illustrate the magnitude of this tragedy, she spent days drawing 5,000 hash marks on paper. And she set a fundraising goal of $2,500 to build a well through charity: water.

Birthday and tooth fairy money went straight to The Riley Project, along with contributions from individuals, home businesses & local service clubs. Riley inspired a rash of creative giving from friends -- from a peer who collected bottles and cans for recycling and handed over the resulting cash to an adult friend who contributed prize money from her award-winning jelly. Her parents helped, too, by applying "earnings" for time she volunteered at local agencies to her campaign.

In November, Riley and her family committed to eating rice and beans every night during Advent -- and applying their grocery savings to the Riley Project. "You will not believe what happened on Christmas Day!" Riley blogged. "There was an envelope on the tree for me, and I opened it and it said that I had finished raising all of the money for the well! I was so happy because I had written at school that all I wanted to give for Christmas was a well and then my dream came true."

Ultimately, so much was raised when other families joined the Goodfellows in their dining adventure that Riley doubled her fundraising target and contributed enough for two wells. Most inspiring? "One day I'm going to live wherever my well is built," she blogged. "So I need to get used to rice and beans."

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