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Caroline Ainsworth Goodrich: Sixth Graders Raise Thousands for ACLU

Hi, I’m Caroline. I had been paying a lot of attention to what Trump is up to since I went to the Women’s March last week with The Representation Project in San Francisco. When I heard about the Muslim ban, I wanted to help make sure it ended. Now. So I came up with the idea of raising money for the ACLU by having a stand where people could donate and get a free cookie or cupcake as a thank you (I thought we would raise more money than just as a bake sale). Later that day, I went on a hike with my friends and told them my idea for raising money. At first they didn’t get it, and some of them hadn’t heard about the Muslim ban yet. After I explained it to them, they thought raising money for the ACLU was a good idea and that we should do it.

The next morning, I woke up and made a sign that I could hold to attract people’s attention and get them to donate. It said, “Donate What You Can… Because Freedom Can’t Protect Itself” The last part was the ACLU’s “catch phrase.” Then I had a big ACLU logo that my mom helped me make. I also made a dry-erase sign that I could update to show people how much money I’d raised.

IMG_6741We went to the place in our neighborhood where kids do lemonade stands and bake-sales. I decided to set a big goal for myself – $200. When I started, my mom was with me but then I asked her go to the car because I thought I’d get more donations on my own. It worked! After a while, I got a little bored, so I texted my friends to see if they wanted to come. First one came, then two more. Cars kept stopping, and sometimes there was a line to donate. One of my friends was very enthusiastic and danced around holding the sign. Another made a remix of the song, YMCA, to be ACLU, and figured out hand motions for all of us. We were having so much fun we kept setting new, higher goals. $300. $400. $500! We thought we’d stop when we went ten minutes without a donation. THAT never happened. One driver took our picture and then posted on Nextdoor about us, and people started driving or walking over to donate.

One of my favorite parts was having to figure out how to explain the ACLU and the Constitution to four-year-olds. Talking with neighbors about how the ACLU was helping fight the Muslim ban and other illegal things Trump is doing. Another was when we raised $110 in below three minutes! Another great part was when people said, “Darn it! I don’t have any cash! I’ll be right back!” or “Let me go to the ATM, I’ll be back in a few!” They actually came back and donated (It wasn’t like selling Girl Scout Cookies, where people didn’t come back).

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My friends and I all agreed we had a great time doing it. When we finished about five hours later, my mom said she had good news. She had gotten some texts with donations and also found out online about people matching donations to double them. As we were about to drive off, some other friends came up and donated last minute, and a stranger came up, having heard about us, and donated as well. This meant we had a total of $1,219! And with a match we had raised $2,438 in just one afternoon!

As we drove my friends home, the car was filled with exclamations of, “I can’t believe we broke $1,000!” and “That felt so good – like I just did something really big!” and “I want to do it again next weekend!” And it really did feel good to have helped a good cause.

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