The New Giving: Celebrating a Birthday by Helping Children

IMG_0219-1When Morris Bankston was a kid in Queens in the 80s, life was good. “I grew up in a middle-class African American family,” he says. “My father was a software engineer and had a well-paying job.”

But when his parents divorced, life got much harder. His mother took custody of him and his younger sister, and for more than a year, the three lived on welfare, barely making ends meet. Bit by bit, their lives improved. Morris did well in school went on to college at Purdue, then got an MBA. Today, he has a good job and a good life.

But he never forgot what it was like to watch his mother struggle–and how a simple change in circumstances almost derailed his life. He became passionate about the concept of preserving U.S. social mobility and how to help people work their way out of poverty and into a better future. After reading widely about economics and the causes of poverty, he concluded that positive child development was key to improving a child’s chances for success.

In April, when a milestone birthday was approaching, Morris decided to put his principles into practice. “A birthday is a celebration of life,” Morris says. “This year, instead of making it just about me, I wanted to celebrate the lives of people who need it most.”

IMG_0231-1Joining the growing trend of online fundraisers, he began looking for a charity to support–one that worked with kids and emphasized education, ideally “with a footprint in Queens.” When he came across The Child Center online, he was impressed with the organization’s comprehensive range of services, and that it helps not just at-risk children, but also the entire family.

“I knew that this was the right organization for me,” he says.

Using the online fundraising site Razoo, he customized his own fundraiser page and named it the 1st Annual MoBAnk$ Birthday Fundraiser for Charity . His goal: to raise $1,000. Then he reached out to his friends and asked them to help.

By the end of the month, he achieved the monetary goal: raising $1050. He also achieved his other goal to “spread a spirit of generosity within the community,” showing people that many small kindnesses can add up to so much.

“Helping those in need doesn’t have to be this epic endeavor,” he says. “This is something any of us can do.”

For those interested in doing an online fundraising campaign, The Child Center has pages readily available on Crowdrise and Razoo. For help setting up a customized online giving campaign, call Jennifer Dudley: 718-651-7770 ext. 301 

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