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In the middle of Young AmeriTowne sits a large setup that is important to all seventeen shops and every citizen. This station does not have hired employees, nor does it sell any products. Yet, it is a crucial element of the town. This station is the donation station.
Towne dollars to real dollars
Each day at Young AmeriTowne, children may choose to donate a portion of their $25-$30 salaries to charity. Though they receive Young AmeriTowne dollars, that fake currency is matched with real money to go to charities. That’s right – a dime on every dollar is contributed to nonprofits throughout Colorado! Thanks to both the Schlessman Family Foundation (at our Cherry Creek location) and the Community First Foundation (at our Belmar location) the students’ Young AmeriTowne dollars turn into thousands of real dollars annually.
One of the thirty-plus lessons presented in the curriculum back at school is on Philanthropy. For some of these students, it is the first time they hear the word, “philanthropy”, so we define it for them simply as “the voluntary action for public good.” The students learn that philanthropy is about more than just giving money and instead, as the sharing of the 3T’s: Time, Talent, and Treasure. They discuss how donating to a worthy cause benefits the community, the nation, and themselves. In doing so, they become curious about ways they can express their caring and concern for the community. Upon being placed in their jobs, each business has a staff meeting, at which point they research the Donation Station’s non-profits, and discuss their philanthropic options.
A student perspective
Towne Hall employs a Community Relations Director, who plays a vital role in Towne every day. This student tallies the dollars and checks dropped into the donation station throughout the day. A past Community Relations Director, Nevaeh Pflipsen of Bear Creek K-8 School, emphasized the importance of philanthropy. Upon being asked why it was important to donate, she replied, “Some people don’t have enough to get by. Donating provides a way for the poor to get what they need and want.” She believes that others can be encouraged to donate, and one reason they may not do it, is because “there are so many great charities that they may not know which one to pick.” She said it was one of her responsibilities to offer guidance with this. Nevaeh continued, “Donating makes me feel good inside. By actually giving some of my earnings, I can really help out. Some others may work really hard, just as hard [as some who earn more], but get nothing. So, it’s important to give.”
Current HQ Charities (Schlessman Foundation): Susan M. Duncan Family YMCA, Ronald McDonald House, Think360Arts, Shining Starts Foundation, Hawk Quest, Canine Companions
Current Belmar Charities (Community First Foundation): Trails and Open Space Coalition, Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Denver, Denver Kids Inc., Imagine!, Center for Work Education and Employment and Tennyson Center for Children
Each year non-profits are selected for the donation station by the Young Americans Bank Youth Board and the Youth Advisory Committee of Jefferson County.
Those students assigned to be accountants tend to more clearly grasp the concept of a donation coming out of a company’s surplus, only once it turns a profit, and after all the expenses have been paid. Hone in on this! Also, deciding which charity to donate to is an important topic for discussion. Ask the kids: How did you decide which of these charities to donate to? Or, after the visit, how did it make you feel to donate?