The Quarter That Changed The World
“I thought about what you said, and I am really inspired.”
I stood on top of a cafeteria table being swarmed with students who wanted to know more about the 30 Hour Famine, I saw a young student approach the table with big eyes and his hands deep in his pockets; he looked like he was on a mission, and I was at the centre of it.
Nine times out of ten a school visit is completely strategic: a time, a place, a plan. Hours of preparation have gone into the presentation, conversations about what kind of materials should be brought in and I have harassed the teachers about what students I should accidentally-but-totally-on-purpose bump into. But sometimes, all the planning and preparation can fail, and I find myself standing in front of a school without knowing if they’re ready for me or not.
Last week, a somewhat spontaneous trip east to Ottawa took me through farm country to Russell, ON – a town, although small, I still managed to get lost 4 times on my way home. After a quick email exchange with the 30 Hour Famine supervising teacher at Russell High School, she informed me that I would be able to grab a little bit of speaking time at the end of a previously scheduled assembly. It’s always hard to go second when you’re a presenter, (especially when you’re following a strong and passionate fight cancer PowerPoint) but I knew I had to roll with the punches, and not let anyone know how much I was actually stressing.
As you can probably guess, the presentation went well and all my worry was for nothing, but I’m not here to tell you about that (instead, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and invite me to your school to hear it yourself!), I want to tell you about the quarter that changed the world.
Once the chaos calmed down and I had a moment to a catch my breath, I sat down with the student and asked what was on his mind. “I thought about what you said, and I am really inspired.” I wish I could tell you that this is the first time I’ve ever heard a student say something to that effect, but it wasn’t, and hopefully won’t be the last. I will say, however, that MY HEART IS ALWAYS FULL OF JOY when someone says something like this, and I start to grin like a fool when I know that the student did more than just listen, they understood.
This time, however the student did something that caught me off guard.
“I am really inspired and I want to help where I can, starting now.” He said as he slid a quarter across the table in my direction. “This might not be much, but it’s all I have right now, which is more than some of the kids you were talking about this morning have.” Speechless, I picked up his quarter and promised that I would hand deliver it to the powers that be. What struck me as poetic in that moment of commotion was his courage and time he took to break away from his friends to come and talk. As he took the paperwork and orange glasses, he continued to tell me that he knew that he was going to be able to make a difference by joining the 30 Hour Famine, but he had to start now: waiting isn’t an option, just as hunger isn’t an option for so many around the world.
And you know what, he did make a difference, and will continue to make a difference for lots of children and communities around the world. That coin, one of many that he will collect as he starts to canvas for the 30 Hour Famine will help farmers get the tools they need for a full harvest, train families to find out the exact kind of food is best for them and help families and children have food that will keep them healthy – encouraging an active lifestyle and reducing the chances of getting ill.
That quarter is a chicken, is a school lunch, is garden of vegetables.
That quarter is the courage to stand up for injustice.
That quarter is the love for our global neighbours.
That quarter is the hope for a future.
That quarter is changing the world.