(Trying to make an effort to post more regularly here again...oh blog, how I've missed you!)
As Christmas rolls around every year, there are the ubiquitous "news" stories screaming about the year's hottest gifts, the toy that parents are sticking each other with shivs to get their hands on, and usually a healthy dose of moaning about the current generation of selfish, spoiled kids whose concept of Christmas is summed up by whatever beeping, light-up, battery-powered crap they demand this year. And every year, the problem is the worst it's ever been.
So, as a tonic to those consumerist doom-and-gloom reports, I wanted to share this WaPo story about an 11-year-old boy named Winston Duncan who is from my neck of the woods (Northern Virginia) and who, having traveled to Africa and seen the widespread lack of transportation there, came home and organized a drive to collect bicycles to send to poor communities in Namibia. (He also donated his own.) He aimed to collect 75 and ended up with more than twice that many.
Dixie Duncan, Winston's mother, said her son has always been sensitive to the needs of others and aware of poverty around the world as a result of their frequent foreign travel. Two hours into Saturday's collection, Winston was talking about applying for a grant to continue his work, as well as holding a big bike collection on Earth Day. "I want to try to make it bigger," he said.
This kid is from Arlington, which is a pretty upscale town, and obviously he's what we would consider quite privileged in life. I think it's commendable that he's so interested in making a difference in the world at such a relatively young age, and his mom also deserves credit both for clearly supporting her son in his philanthropic efforts, and for almost certainly modeling the kind of values that have taught him to take action in the world.
I will continue to keep an eye out for and post stories about kids who are making this kind of effort to do good, especially in the holiday season. Please send me links if you find them!
Here are the websites for Bikes for the World and the Bicycling Empowerment Network, both mentioned in the story, for further reading or to make contributions. (I couldn't locate a website for Winston Duncan's nonprofit Wheels to Africa, although there apparently was one.)