Tuesday, February 25, 2014

There is no such thing as small change.

I held the insulin vial high above my head where the light from the gym windows could just catch the liquid left within.

“This is insulin.  Your bodies make insulin all day long.  Believe it or not, your body needs insulin to live.  My boys have Type 1 Diabetes.  Their bodies do not make insulin.  Just days without this…and they can’t be alive anymore.”

I gently shake the bottle to make my point.  Their eyes were bright with interest.  I had them.

“Thankfully, we’re able to inject this insulin into their bodies, and they can live a normal life just like you and me.  But there is a catch.  This bottle of insulin is very expensive.  This little vial alone costs about $150.  Our family goes through a bottle of insulin about every five days.  We are very lucky we have good insurance so we can afford to keep our boys alive and healthy.”

I pointed to a map bright on the screen projected by the overhead.

“This is Haiti.  And over here?  This is Africa.  When a child is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in these countries, their family almost always can’t afford the insulin.  Do you understand what that means?”

The children nodded solemnly.

“All they need to live are several drops of this very special liquid.  A lot of times bad things happen and there is nothing we can do about it.  But in this case, that isn’t true.  We all can help!  Even if we can only help one child, wouldn’t our efforts be worth it?”

Children are humble, loving, pure souls.  They have a knack for empathy.  When I asked them if they’d be willing to bring in $1 or more on Valentines Day to help these children live, they cheered.  When I told them their $1 would also buy them a pass to wear their favorite silly or fun hat to school that day too, they were beside themselves with happiness.

Two weeks later I walked around the school collecting envelopes thick with money.  Each teacher had a story. 

“This student’s family has nothing.  They are barely making it and they handed me a $20 bill.  I tried to explain to them that $1 would be enough, but they insisted.”

“That student over there handed me $40.  Her parents said they would match any amount of money she was willing to give of her own.  She gave it all.”

“Hi Mrs. Schuhmacher!  I gave money for in-su-lin!!!  I’m helping a kid in Africa be alive!”

All in all we raised $1000 for the Spare a Rose Campaign on behalf of Life for a Child.

This is the effort it took me:

5 minutes to talk to the students about the campaign.
20 minutes to prepare envelopes with attached class lists to hand out to the teachers.
20 minutes to put together a flier for the students to bring home to their families.
30 minutes to print the fliers and collate them for each class.
1 hour to collect and count the money.

Two hours and 15 minutes of my time, and what benefits did it reap?

16+ years of life for a child.

Please don’t sing my praises.  I didn’t do anything that any of you couldn’t do.

I writing this to show everyone within my reach that with very minimal effort, amazing things can come to pass.  If we all do something little, our little efforts unite into a tidal wave of help.

Look what the children of our Elementary School did!  

Today I dropped off 450 homemade chocolate chip cookies to the boys’ school.  On each class plate, I pinned this note:

Dear Teachers and Students,

Our Valentine's Day caps fundraiser was a fantastic success!  The (school name) community raised $1000 to put towards insulin for children in developing countries.  That is over sixteen and a half years of life for a child!

As with everything in life, your actions will have consequences.  I know we often think of consequences as a bad thing, but sometimes our actions reap good consequences too.  In that spirit, I wanted to say thank you for your kind donations by sending chocolate chip cookies your way.  I hope in the future this experience will fuel your desire to do more good in the world.  Many small acts of kindness can make a huge difference.  Look at the difference we made!

Congratulations on a job well done!

All our love and adoration,
Meri Schuhmaher and Family

I want you to know that I believe what I wrote to these children.  Too often I don't contribute, because I believe my contribution will be too small to be noticed.  Imagine if we all stopped thinking like that.  Imagine everyone, all of us, doing small things everyday to contribute.  I can scarcely imagine what a wonderful world this would be.

It's time to do our part.  "There is no such thing as small change."


  1. I am not an emotional person, but this really gets to me. Thanks for the BIG change you're making every day.

  2. This is beautiful. Your actions are beautiful. You and your family are truly beautiful, Meri. Thank you for this.

  3. I am a D mom who happens to live in Africa (Ghana). I see it all too often; it breaks my heart. This gladdens it. God bless you, Meri, and your boys, for all you do for our T1 children wherever they may live.

  4. I am balling my eyes out.

    The biggest contribution to Spare a Rose, by a factor of three, was these wonderful children but what they give is so much more valuable than near money.

    You wrote before this lovely thought and to me it is the very heart and soul of Spare a Rose, "Don’t worry about the next generation folks. Everything is going to be just fine."

    I thought Spare a Rose was to give a future to the next generation. Here, in this school, the next generation is prove they will give us a bright future, all we need to do is give them the chance.

    Huge love to all o' y'all.

  5. "your actions have consequences".... you are SPOT on Meri. Great job and thanks for spreading inspiration even further with this post. xo

  6. Love this, and love to you and your family, Meri!

  7. So beautiful and wonderful and every single time I read what you wrote I cry happy tears.
    My wonderful friend Meri, you not only changed the lives of children with diabetes and you changed the lives of children without diabetes.
    One person does indeed make a difference.

  8. After reading Barbara's and Bennett's comments above, there's but much more to say than... Wow!

  9. Meri, you are a very special soul with a very important message for everyone. I am always inspired by your strength and pro-activeness. You make a huge difference in many peoples' lives just by writing your blog and I am definitely one of them. Since you first posted about the Spare the Rose campaign, I have been a supporter of this important effort. I know that the Spare the Rose was specifically designed with Valentines Day in mind but I am sure it continues beyond Valentines day. Do you know if the campaign will continue under this name? I would like to propose a similar fund-raiser in my children's school. If you have a contact in the organization running the campaign, please let me know so I can see how my small community and I can contribute. Thank you, Meri! We are all blessed with talents and and a God-given power to take actions in our little corners of the world (however small it seems) to be vehicles of blessings to those near and far. It is all just a matter of having faith in that, and doing whatever we are capable of (without judging ourselves) and spreading some good. One blessing that has come to me through being a mom of a T1D child is that I have discovered that I am capable of so much more than I ever knew....when I am feeling like I can give no more and I am going to fall over with exhaustion, all I need to do is look into my little boys brilliant eyes and I muster up that extra gumption to keep going and keep giving....it's the mission we have been given. Thank you, Meri!!! Sending you and your boys tons of Love!


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