A day for giving…

red nose Up at the crack of a sparrow’s yawn this morning – yours truly and the Candis blog has been invited to Chessington World of Adventures for the launch of their new Zufari Ride Into Africa (chessington.com), so we’ve got to pack our binoculars and camouflage jackets before school. We’re all very excited. But before we all catch the train to visit Surrey’s version of Africa it’s time to think about another way of bringing Africa closer to home. It’s Red Nose Day! (I don’t normally reach for the exclamation point so early in the day, but I think it’s compulsory here.) Fundraising has become not only a lot more fun since I was a child, but a lot more sophisticated and effective, especially when it comes to involving children. When I was growing up charity more or less stopped at the school gates. Other than buying a poppy (or six – they always fell off my duffle coat) for the British Legion’s Poppy Appeal in November, my involvement with charity was limited to helping mum make cakes for the WI market and the odd sponsored something or other for the interminable attempt to raise money for the town swimming pool. Today I think our children have a much wider experience of what charity is all about and a much closer connection with both raising money and knowing where it’s needed. The school class tea is a regular fixture and the children know that when it’s their class’s turn it not only means that they get a chance to make some Rice Krispie squares to sell, but that the 50p each of them raises will buy extras – like a class trip or a jazzed-up book corner – that the school would not otherwise afford. It may not seem much, but it has introduced them to the idea that not only is it quite fun to raise money for something, but also that there is no shame in being the beneficiary of it. So when disaster strikes – whether it’s a shortfall in the cash needed for the school brass band, an earthquake in Japan or a drought in Somalia – someone will always dust off the school urn and organise a quick emergency class tea. It may sound trivial and a tad Marie Antoinette to respond to an international disaster by whipping up a batch of fairy cakes but it doesn’t seem like that a few days later when the PTA is able to write a cheque for £200 to the Disasters Emergency Committee. Especially when, because of the huge international mix of parents in this part of the country, the parents who made or bought the most cakes or hefted the most tables into the playground and back again, have family in the areas affected. So now, before everyone gets up and notices that I haven’t dyed Doughnut’s nose red or shaved my head, I’d better get to work on something for the school’s Red Nose Day cake sale. What’s the bet the corner shop has run out of glacé cherries?

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