On September 13, Teagan Ewing turned nine. She invited her friends over for a birthday party, but she told them not to bring her any presents. This was not a typical birthday.
Teagan and her mother, Lynette Peterson, had had an idea. Instead of asking for presents, Teagan asked her friends to donate money for a good cause.
And she’s now sent that money – all $410 – to a family friend in Nicaragua, who’s using it to buy soccer balls for kids at local schools.
Most of the money came from her friends, Teagan said, but she also had a little help from her family. “My grandpa gave me lots of money, too.”
Teagan, who lives in Dawson City, said she got the idea from one of her friends, who’d recently donated birthday money to the Humane Society.
Peterson said they started off thinking they’d make a donation to a local cause, but eventually started looking at possibilities outside Canada.
That’s when Lisa Moore, a friend who lives in Whitehorse in the summer and teaches in Nicaragua through the winter, offered to help out.
“That just sounded like a better idea than handing it to a foundation,” Peterson said, explaining that she wanted to be sure she knew where all of the money went.
Peterson said her daughter chose soccer balls because the sport is her “big love right now.” She’s been playing for about four years, since kindergarten.
So they sent the money to Moore, who used it to buy 14 soccer balls. Peterson had hoped for more, but Nicaragua uses the American dollar, so they were hit pretty hard by the exchange rate.
Now, Moore is in the process of handing out the balls to local schools.
“She’s just randomly picking the less-funded schools,” Peterson explained. As of this week, she’d distributed at least seven balls.
Peterson said the students range in age from young children to teenagers, and the staff usually get the kids together in a big group when Moore stops by.
“She said they’ve been very excited to see (the soccer balls), which made her really emotional a few times,” Peterson said.
Moore has also been sending Teagan and her mom photos of the students in Nicaragua, so they can see how the donation is paying off.
Teagan said she’d probably like to do the same thing again, when she turns 10 this September. She said she doesn’t mind taking a pass on presents.
“Because it felt kind of good for other kids to be happy,” she said, “and have the things they want.”
Contact Maura Forrest at firstname.lastname@example.org