campaign to watch: beans ‘n rice for a month.

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campaign: The 3:12 Project
start date: Jan. 10, 2010
campaign leader: Riley Goodfellow, eight years old
amount raised to date: $2,459.50 ($7,695.50 including her last campaign)
campaign mission statement:
We are Addi, Brady, Miah, Jake, Grant, Ford, Jayden, Riley, and Madeline. We believe that we can change the world. We’re going to start by raising $5,000 for a well. Did you know that over 4,500 children die every day from unclean drinking water? Did you know that kids the same age as us walk hours every day for water? We hope that this well will help more children live and be able to go to school and play. We started raising money for this well by eating rice and beans for dinner for 25 days straight. All of our families gave the money that we saved on food during that time to the well. Is there anything that you can give up for awhile to help others have clean water and live? Please help us.

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Eight-year-old Riley Goodfellow defied all expectations when she raised $5,236 for a freshwater well in her first charity: water campaign last summer. Now, she’s on her way to funding a second well along with her friends with a mycharity: water campaign called the 4:12 Project. We talked to Riley and her mom, Sarah, about their dedication to charity: water.

Riley’s pretty active in community service — why did she choose to campaign for water of all things?
(Sarah) We went to Guatemala this past summer. That was the first time we’d been in the slums of a developing nation and our kids saw that most people don’t live like us and they don’t have running water. Riley actually — she didn’t want to come home. She just moves in and out of socio-economic groups very easily.
Then, we were trying to take home with us what we learned and we gave Riley some options to help — she picked building a well. That was one of the things she noticed in Guatemala. I Google-searched “building a well” and charity: water came up.
(Riley) I just saw that in their homes they didn’t have sinks or anything, so I thought maybe I could give clean water. I wanted to do something for them.

Riley started her first campaign — aptly named “Riley Project” — in July 2009 and raised enough for a freshwater well. What’s the new campaign about?
(Riley) Every night for 25 days, we gave $10 each night by eating rice and beans [and giving money saved to the first well]. All the kids who ate rice and beans during that campaign are helping me make a new one called “4:12 Project” because the [Bible] verse is about how even though you’re young, you can still make a big difference and still help the world.
I don’t really like the beans that much, but I still eat ‘em.

Any reactions to the idea?
(Sarah) Most people thought we were crazy. To eat rice and beans for 25 nights straight!? Most people were like, “That’s great, not something I would do, but it’s great,” but others jumped on. One family did it for Riley even though they didn’t know her personally. There were some people who were like, “Why would you make your kids do that?” And I said, “It’s never too young to learn about sacrifice.” Our four-year-old is a big complainer — and literally gagged! Every night he would pray, though, for the world to be healthy. Our other kids had great attitudes about it and cleaned their plates, they totally got why they were doing this.
The point was to sacrificially give, not give out of our excess. We can live simple and give the money away — we don’t have to live this “American dream,” we can just cut back practically. I used to think, “We can’t,” but now I hear of a need and I know we can. And it was so encouraging to see our kids get it and step up and grow, to see their spirits and how beautiful they are.

Riley, did you think it’d be easy to raise another $5,000?
(Riley) No, I knew that it was a lot of money and it would take a long time. But I decided to go for another because I knew that not everyone had clean water yet. It was fun, too. I just didn’t want to give up.
Oh, and I got really excited — I have never really tried beans.

What did you learn from the first campaign?
(Sarah) She mainly used her blog and I used my Facebook page. We also used a family blog. We looked at it as a service project — we wanted her to not just ask people for money but to do something in her life to apply practically what she was doing. We say “earn” the money, though it’s not really earning… for example, she served at a soup kitchen, she went to work at Second Harvest [a hunger-relief organization], reaping left-over crops, and she worked at a church in inner-city L.A. with kids. Every time she went to work somewhere, she told people there about charity: water.
Also, our church gave their children’s offering for a month to Riley’s campaign. During that month, Riley got up every week in front of the children and high school kids and shared about the well.

So then what did Riley do differently for her second campaign?
(Sarah) Our biggest tool was Facebook and the blogs. The Internet is used for so much bad these days, I just loved that we could redeem it and use it for good. I had five friends on Facebook from high school that I haven’t talked to in 10 years and they gave to the well. My husband’s friend he hasn’t talked to in five years gave $500. We also had strangers find our blog and give on mycharity: water. On the new mycharity: water site, it’s fun to see donations come in right away. It’s so powerful and the stuff that people are saying on there is very powerful.

After two campaigns… you think Riley will do another?
(Sarah) Oh, yeah, definitely. Maybe everyone in this campaign will seperate and do different campaigns.

Riley, you’re half-way to your second well! What have you been doing to finish strong?
(Riley) It was really funny because [last week], my friends and I had a bunch of cardboard and we made signs. We walked along the streets with the signs — “I ate rice and beans” — and said we’re giving the money we get to a well.

How’d you do?
It was like 30 cents. Yeah, it counts, but I was hoping for $2. At least we still raised some money.

Keep up with Riley’s campaign here and visit mycharity: water to how you can start your own campaign for freshwater projects.

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