7-year-old’s “Stupid Idea” Raises Thousands for Wildlife Preservation
When Winter Slade turned 7, she decided that she didn’t want any presents. Instead, she wanted people to donate to a charity to protect endangered animals.
“I thought it was awesome,” explained proud mom Michelle Slade. “She thought that was a great idea because she had enough toys already.”
The birthday girl got this ingenious idea after watching a public service announcement for Bring Back the Wild, a Canadian program that works with kids to fundraise for wildlife preservation. Nonprofit organization Earth Rangers created this program to encourage kids to donate money to protect their chosen endangered animal (dubbed “hero” animal). For kids who decide to do this for their birthdays, they get their own fundraising page, as well as receive a themed party pack.
For Winter, she decided to protect the pine marten. Despite the novel and selfless idea, the little girl had her share of critics.
“One mother said to me, ‘Why would you do that? That is so stupid,’” Michelle recalled. “Mind you, my daughter is right next to me.” Other parents went so far as criticizing the charity, saying that most of the money will go to paying for administrative costs.
“I leaned over and said, ‘Well, I guess your child won’t be invited to her party then,’” the stunned mom retorted.
As they went back home that day, Winter started crying, discouraged by people’s initial reaction to her birthday party.
Seeing that they may not get traction from the skeptical parents, Michelle decided to do a reach-out online.
“Please help me restore her faith in humanity,” she wrote on Reddit. “I didn’t want her to think that adults think she was stupid.”
The determined mom posted the request on Thursday night, and the next morning, she was surprised by the response. “When I woke up, it had a whole bunch of replies and she was already at less than $100. I thought, wow, people are really donating money,” she said. “These people don’t even know me.”
Pretty soon, her story spread online through blogs and other supporters. People from the Nature Conservancy of Canada contacted the family to send Winter a shirt. On their Facebook page, they also posted a picture of the pine marten with the comment “Thank you, Winter!”
In two days, Winter was able to fundraise over $2,500.
“Winter is just so excited. She talks about it all the time. The pine martin, blah blah blah, the pine martin.” Michelle said. “The funniest thing is she keeps saying she’s raised $15,000 instead of $1,500, which is funny because she doesn’t really understand money. She’s only seven.”
So why the pine marten? “Because they’re cute and they never want to stop playing with you and they never say no,” winter explained simply.
“All she wants to do is raise money for the pine marten. It’s funny and it’s sweet and I don’t think she even understands the scope of what’s happening,” Michelle said. “She just thinks it’s awesome because they sent her a T-shirt.