It’s incredible how our kids are a source of constant inspiration. Take it from Heather Feig who started her company, Bookmark Buddies after her daughter, Lanie, had a third grade reading buddy who was very sick with a brain tumor. Lanie, who was in kindergarten at the time, had no idea that her buddy was sick. When her reading buddy died, she had to tell Lanie, but in an effort to help her cope with the shock and sadness, Heather wanted her to get involved in charity work, but couldn’t think of an age appropriate thing for her to do. She thought she could make bookmarks, which they could sell to charity to help sick children.
Four days after Scarlett died, they held an event at the local bookstore where kids from the community came and decorated bookmarks for a dollar. They raised $300. From there, the interest only grew. They took things a step further and created the Bookmark Buddies website not only so people could donate, but so that children anywhere in the world can use our platform to raise money for whatever cause is close to their hearts so that it could help them the way it has helped Lanie and the people in our community. Read on to learn more about Heather and Bookmark Buddies, plus some local events where you and your child can participate.
Interview with Heather Feig of Bookmarkk Buddies
How did the idea for Bookmark Buddies come about?
The idea for Bookmark Buddies came about when my five-year-old daughter, Lanie, lost her third grade reading buddy (Scarlett) to cancer. Although she was in a wheel chair and had lost her hair, Lanie did not know that Scarlett was sick until she passed away. My husband and I thought that maybe if Lanie did charity work for other sick children it may help her process the loss. We thought making and selling bookmarks would be age appropriate and fun. Lanie was instantly motivated and excited about this fundraiser!
What charities does Bookmark Buddies benefit?
Bookmark Buddies raises money to benefit the Make a Wish Hudson Valley chapter, The Ronald McDonald House of Hudson Valley and the SPCA of Westchester. We chose these charities because Scarlett was touched by each one in her life. She had a wish granted from Make a Wish and her family stayed at the Ronald McDonald House. After her passing, her mother created a foundation for her at the SPCA, Scarlett’s Rainbow Rescue. Donations can be made directly tot he 3 charities directly on our page.
BUT, the exciting part about Bookmark Buddies, is that through our website, any child, anywhere, can use our platform to raise money for whatever charity is meaningful to them personally. Seeing the positive effect Bookmark Buddies has had on our daughter’s grief gave us the drive to reach others who are hurting or want to make a difference. If they send us pictures from their event, we will add them to our website’s “become a buddy” page.
How do you get the word out about Bookmark Buddies?
Getting the word out about Bookmark Buddies is one of the most beautiful aspects of the project. Everything has happened so organically! After our first event, we were asked to hold a table at another event and then another, etc. Seeing the response and interest helped motivate us to create a website and get the word out on social media too. We have a Facebook page, Instagram page and a twitter account.
What ages is the program geared towards? How can people participate?
The program is geared toward elementary school children, but we have had people of all ages enjoy working with us. The best part is that anyone can decorate a bookmark, even a toddler! At our events, we provide blank bookmarks for people to decorate, We offer supplies that include markers, stickers, stamps and washy tape. I have had countless children and adults ask how they can be involved. Some volunteer at our events behind the table, while others enjoy paying to make a bookmark.
They have the choice to keep the bookmark or donate it to be sold. All of the proceeds go to our favorite charities. It is also a really nice way for parents and children to spend time together while teaching them the meaning of giving back. As Lanie once said, with a lemonade stand all you do is give money and get a treat, but with Bookmark Buddies, you get to have the whole experience.
What do you think kids learn about from the experience?
I think that kids are learning that even at a young age, they can actually raise money and make a difference.
For example, Lanie’s friends have offered to give her their tooth fairy money or have bake sales to raise money for Bookmark Buddies. I think the children who participate feel that they have a sense of control and empowerment and it makes them feel really good that they are able to help other children or animals in need. I know that my daughter has learned the true meaning of giving back and she is enjoying the journey.
Some local Bookmark Buddies events:
July 13: 914cares friends of Karen
August 4: Backpack to School (supplies for success)
October 5: Chappaqua children’s book festival
October 19: Pleasantville farmers market
Learn more or to donate, visit www.bookmarkbuddies.org