A Chesterbrook Elementary student learned that a little idea mentioned in passing can become a large success beyond her dreams.
Carlyle Howard, a fifth-grader at Chesterbrook, wanted to do something to help the thousands of victims of the tsunami that hit Asia almost a month ago, but she wasn’t sure what she could do.
“I went for a walk to the creek and saw people selling cookies, and a couple days later we were talking in the kitchen and I made a sarcastic comment about having a pancake breakfast,” she said.
Her mom, Mason, immediately embraced the idea, and their work began.
“I made fliers first about the pancake breakfast, and then we went to Starbucks and Safeway to see if they would donate things,” Carlyle said.
Safeway donated pancake mix and syrup for Carlyle’s breakfast fund-raiser, which was held in the Howard home in McLean last Sunday morning.
“We wanted the fund-raiser to be a neighborhood thing, warm and open to everyone,” she said.
“Between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. we had somewhere from 60 to 90 people come through,” said Carlyle’s dad, Matt Howard.
From pancake sales alone, Carlyle was able to raise $1,100, which will be matched by both her cousin, Wea Nichols, and her grandmother, Maggie Bryant. In addition, her dad’s company, Mass Mutual, will take the combined total of those three donations and double it, bringing the overall total of Carlyle’s contribution to over $6,000.
Not bad for a morning in the kitchen.
“I DIDN’T THINK we’d make anything more than $200, but I was wrong,” she said. “Some of my friends’ parents called me to say they were proud of me, and it made me feel really good.”
The concept of giving to others has been a part of Carlyle’s life for years, her dad said.
“Every year we pick an organization to give money to instead of buying each other lots of Christmas gifts,” he said.
Her contribution will be going to Save the Children, chosen because of Carlyle’s research about the charity and her familiarity with the commercials.
The whole family helped Carlyle with the fund-raiser, along with some friends.
“I sat in the front hall with my friends and collected money and helped sign people in,” she said. “My mom’s friends helped cook, and a lot of people brought over their skillets to use.”
Charging $3 at the door, Carlyle wanted to be able to make money for the charity but not ask for so much that people wouldn’t want to help out. “A lot of people came in with $5 bills and told us to keep the change,” she said. “ Some families came in with $100. Some people brought checks from their friends who couldn’t come to the breakfast.”
Her grandmother had been collecting stuffed animals to send to the children overseas who lost everything in the tsunami, and Carlyle decided to help with that effort as well.
“We put that on the fliers too. There were 16 trash bags full of stuffed animals when the breakfast was done,” she said.
“You couldn’t walk in the front door by the end of the morning because there were so many trash bags there,” Howard said.
Even her two younger brothers helped, donating some of Carlyle’s stuffed animals to the cause.
“The boys were also using their shoeshine kit to raise money during the breakfast,” Howard said. They donated $10 to Carlyle’s fund-raiser.
The family was impressed by the willingness of Safeway, Starbucks and Whole Foods to donate goods to the cause.
“They were eager to help,” Carlyle said. “I talked to the manager at Safeway and had to write a letter to the manager of Starbucks, but they gave us 10 gallons of coffee.”
WHOLE FOODS DONATED 10 gallons of orange juice and milk, she said. “We’re still drinking the left-over orange juice.”
“Starbucks brought over the coffee in a big canister, which was great,” said Carlyle’s mom, Mason. “The people that helped in the kitchen were great and so excited to help. My aunt drove down from Germantown to help cook. It’s so nice to build community rather than just collect money and send it in.”
“My mom is all about giving to charities and donating to homeless shelters and donating clothing,” Carlyle said. “I’m in a youth group in church, and we did a Thanksgiving dinner at a homeless shelter in D.C.”
Her act of kindness was soon duplicated: One of her friends, Sarah Hendricks, held a pancake breakfast the same morning in Vienna.
“Carlyle did a really good job trying to help people who were injured or lost their homes or family in the tsunami. She did a really good job,” said friend Clarissa Morrill.
The generosity of children and adults alike was heartwarming to the Howard family.
“With a disaster of this magnitude, people want to help,” Matt Howard said.
“People here were so generous They’d give us a $20 and not want change,” Mason Howard said.
“We weren’t expecting this,” Carlyle said. “I think it taught me a lot. I didn’t think one kid could make this much money for a good cause. It made me feel so warm inside.”