1987. I was nine years old; a third grade student, a child of the eighties. It was the first year I was asked to participate in the school’s annual fundraiser – the “MS Read-A-Thon” – where students asked friends and family to sponsor them for every book read.
As the donation booklets were distributed, my eyes ran up and down the columns at the back of the brochure. Sponsors. Amount Offered. Books Read.
I paled slightly, my hands trembling as I shoved the booklet in my desk. I felt sick.
My immigrant parents weren’t the type to support charitable initiatives. Don’t get me wrong; they willfully donated to their church and its associated fundraising campaigns, it’s just that they were much less inclined to extend that generosity to organizations unknown to them. I feared that I would be the only student who didn’t raise a sizable contribution – or any at all! – for the fundraiser.
My grade 3 teacher could sense that something was off. Pulling me aside during outdoor recess, she asked if I had any questions about the annul Read-A-Thon. Not wanting to lie, I confided in her. …