I got something in the mail yesterday that moved me so much, it has taken another day to get to blog about it (is that slow enough for the slow blogging crowd). I have to weave a back story before I get to the punch line about getting something back (not tangible, but emotional) for giving to an organization. We should not be giving to get, but there are things we can get than will feed back into the giving cycle.

If that is not confusing enough, my seven blog readers, then you must be skimming. Slow down and read.

In August I wrote about a different way to make a WordPress plugin (to the four remaining readers, do not gloss over, this is not a post about technology).

Joe Solomon had asked 10 educational bloggers to try out the Possibly Related Classroom Projects plugin. The plugin analyzes the text of a post, and appends links to 3 potentially relevant projects listed among the 14,000 plus ones at DonorsChoose.

DonorsChoose is a place where teachers from disadvantaged schools can post project ideas that need funding (small scale, classroom projects) for materials, with the idea that people willing to donate money can select a project that they would like to support.

More Heavy Reading I was skeptical, since a lot of what I write here seems to not have much relevance to school projects. But as I wrote in August, a post I wrote about my experience with “moo cards” linked me to three projects, that by title seemed far off, but as I read the project detail, was excited, especially one project for a school in Phoenix (Think Local) was asking for money to stimulate kids interest in reading by buying some classic story books, and one of the books listed was Click, Clack, Moo (and more great books on the project list like Where the Wild Things Are) and that ironically was a book I had just purchased for myself (and enjoyed, even at my supposed advanced age, see my level of literature is about 2nd grade).

This was too much serendipity– my blog post on moo cards to a project in Arizona for kids reading Click, Clack, Moo that I had just bought — I had to donate to the Literacy Pills project.

So back to yesterday. I get a somewhat thick packet in the mail from Donors Choose that is described in the letter as a “thank you package” from the teacher her students.

It includes a detailed one page Project Cost Report that shows exactly where the money went (to buy 17 books!), a chronological Fulfillment Report, that also shows the logistical support DonorsChoose provides- they review the proposal, verify material costs, and even orders them for the teacher.

But there is more.

The teacher who ran the project included an appreciative note:

… Your donation helped me pass on my love of reading to my students, who are at an age where they will learn to either love or hate reading. Thanks to your gift, many of my students love reading and contantly beg to take the books home every night!

When my students finish their work early, they often pick out a book to read. It should be noted that the books you donated are usually the first chosen. It’s a delight to see them so excited about reading some classic books that I myself read when I was young. Your donation fueled that excitement, and for that, I sincerely thank you. It thrills me to se that my students do not approach reading as a chore but as a delightful activity. Thank you for making this possible!

Wow, that is really something.

Yet there is more- part of the project funding including giving the teacher a (probably disposable) camera and DonorsChoose processes the photos which I get copies of in my thank-you package:


But wait, there is more, much more…

The envelope also includes hand written thank you notes from the students, and there, melt goes my heart reading them. I scanned a few into a PDF to share:

Student Letters (2.1Mb PDF)

Even if these were done as “Now let’s sit down and write letters before recess” they are still so precious and full of that honesty kids have when they are still wide-eyed and full of excitement and enthusiasm (before we school it out of them).

I am very touched.

Wow, do you think I am a bit motivated to give again to DonorsChoose?

You bet,

I gave, and I got, and am ready to give.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Teaching the older ones and I am hearing more woeful noises today regarding final exams than celebrations. Thanks for sharing this. I would like to learn how to get involved and that isn’t clear from this post. I can’t research it now, but I am sure if I search the blog and links it will be obvious. Class is about to begin. Peace.

  2. The best rewards for giving are the ones you never expect to get. Thanks for sharing the heart warming story. If nothing else happens in 2009 this should be a good year for you.

    After seeing the “Bucket List” list, I started my own list. As I made the list, I realized a lot of the things I want to do in life are about giving and helping others including activities Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and others. I’ve made a commitment to do something good for at least ten people I don’t know complete strangers. I’m happy to say the number is down to four. It gives me a warm feeling each time I help a person.

    Keep up the good work and thanks again for sharing your story. It made may day too.


  3. Wow! And to link another little circle to this chain, your story has inspired me to donate as well. What a cool message with a such a cool outcome.

    As one of the 3 readers to finish this passage, I want to thank you for posting it!

    David (Houston, TX)

  4. Wonderful! This is really what life is about, isn’t it? Thanks for taking the time to share this. I loved reading the scanned thank-you letters too! :)

  5. Alan: thanks for the context, the story and the real message. In a “gift economy” it’s all about the giving. When it works the rewards are enhanced by the extrinsic return that goes along with the intrinsic sense of value.

    This has motivated me to look for something similar in my little neck of the world. Talk with you on Friday (er, Sat. morning for moi).


  6. Alan,

    Thanks for sharing such a touching story about your experience with DonorsChoose.org with your readers. We’re glad to hear that it has inspired you to visit our site again. As one of the first users of the DonorsChoose.org/SocialActions WordPress plug-in, it means a lot that you’ve been so moved by this application and our organization.

    – The DonorsChoose.org Team

  7. Thanks for giving to DonorsChoose. I have had 2 of my proposals funded and a 3rd one received a $150.00 donation just this week! (Only 400.00 left to go!)
    With the budget cuts, this helps me get things that hekp my students so much!
    I hope my donors enjoyed their thank-you packages as much as you did!

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