The trials and tribulations of pint-sized philanthropy

My daughter has graduated from Treehouse to YTV. Along with shows like Kung Fu Panda and Kid vs. Kat come advertisements. But instead of trying to get your kid to go Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, today’s ads tell your kid to visit new websites.

So one day last week Avery says, “Mommy, I want to go online and check out EarthRangers.com. I can sponsor an animal and help save its habitat and play games.”

Me: “Hmmmm.” This is something I say when I really do not feel like doing whatever potentially time-consuming activity my child has in mind. It gives me time to think and plan a strategy for saying no without actually saying no. “Where did you hear about this?”

Avery: “On YTV.” Well, at that point I should have said, “Oh, my gosh! I forgot there’s chocolate in the pantry!” But instead I sighed and said, “OK.”

Sucked in by an ad on YTV, my daughter insisted we check out EarthRangers.com

We found EarthRangers.com and before I new what was happening we’d signed up and Avery had created her own avatar. Then I did a little more reading about it.

Earth Rangers is a kid-driven conservation company that raises money to help some of Canada’s endangered species. Each child chooses an animal to protect — Avery picked the spotted turtle from Ontario — and then pledges to raise a certain amount of money. Avery was feeling generous and pledged $50. She then ran upstairs and grabbed her piggy bank.

Where's the hammer? There's $50 in toonies and loonies in here that could save a spotted turtle!

Avery: “Mommy, I have $50 in allowance money. I’m ready to donate!”

Me: “So you want me to make a $50 donation with my credit card and then you’ll give me all the money you’ve been saving since Christmas?”

Avery: “Yes. When will I get my prize?” I think she thought they’d ship her a spotted turtle or even just a cute animal stuffie, for her conservation efforts.

Me: “Hmmmm.” Pause. “You know, I don’t think you get anything. But you’ll have the knowledge you’re helping save the spotted turtles. Won’t that make you feel good?”

Avery: “No!” Cue tears. “What does that even mean?”

Me: “Well, donating money to a cause they believe in makes people feel good.”

Avery: “You mean they want all my allowance money and I don’t even get ANYTHING? That’s not fair! WAAAAHHHH!”

I explained that she didn’t have to spend all her own money to raise $50. She could ask grandparents and aunties to make donations on her behalf. This helped her feel somewhat better, but in her world, she felt a bit stung by false advertising. Helping those poor turtles for nothing! As if!

In my world, I couldn’t help but think how times have changed. Back in the day, $50 would have gotten me a year’s supply of Cocoa Puffs.

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