For every person who thinks kids with autism don’t experience empathy for other people, I’d like to share this story.
As part of my job, I spent an afternoon recently at a homeless “campus” in downtown Phoenix. It’s an amazing place, really, that incorporates a shelter, job placement services, educational services, a post office, a library, and low-cost housing for people just starting to get back on their feet.
I picked up C from school that afternoon, humbled by what I had seen, and talked to him about where I had been that day. I told him I wished I could think of a way to help the homeless people I had seen, and C offered to let them all move in with us. His next idea was to give them his allowance, which then progressed into all the kids at his school giving their allowances, and finally ended up with his wanting to do a penny drive at his school.
And thus, “Pennies for Hope” was born. In a project lasting all of February, we set a goal of $500, which is about $1 per student at his school. Every week, C and I collected the buckets from each classroom and weighed them to see who had raised the most money. By last Friday, every single bank in town was out of pennies, and people were driving to the next town over to get them for their kids’ classes. More and more poured in, and this morning, we had a final count of 623 pounds of coins. The fire department hauled it over to the local casino for sorting and counting, and we ended up with $1,347.25.
C’s final words? “Wow. That will help A LOT of homeless people.”
C loading up the pennies in the fire truck!
About the Author: Darcy is the mother of C, a 10-year-old boy diagnosed with high-functioning autism. This piece first appeared on her blog, What We Need, and is reprinted here by permission.