A simple social-emotional learning activity in reading class has turned into a small business venture for Hanes Elementary School fifth grader Michael Williams.
But here’s the catch. Michael is donating every penny he raises.
“I just want to make a difference,” he says.
Just before the holiday break, Ms. Latonya Johnson taught Michael and his classmates how to make wreaths out of various materials, the way she learned as a Girl Scout in the fourth or fifth grade. Michael used plastic bags – without the zippers – and stickers.
Michael showed the wreath to his mom, Shawneta Jordan, and his mom’s friend, Ms. Kim, who posted a picture of it on Facebook.
From that Facebook post, Michael garnered several orders. His “Nanamama” (maternal grandmother) in Pennsylvania also posted a photo of his wreath on her Facebook, and from there, he received about 25 more orders.
“A couple of weeks later, I got a text from his mom saying, ‘It’s your fault,’” says Johnson. “I was like, ‘What’s my fault? What did I do?’ Come to find out, he had started a business. I thought it was awesome.”
Although he only charged $5 per wreath, Michael found himself receiving more for each one.
“So I just say, whatever you want to pay,” he says. “That’s how much they cost.”
Since December, he has sold approximately 70 wreaths and raised more than $1,500, making generous gifts to the Children’s Medical Center Dallas, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Ronald McDonald House of Dallas.
“I chose them because I want to help out the kids, and God put that on my heart to do that,” he says.
Those who know Michael aren’t surprised by this beautifully kind gesture.
“Michael is one of those students teachers dream of working with each year,” says his teacher RubyAnne Crites. “He is always up for any challenge and is a hard worker. He is always willing to help others, too.”
Ms. Johnson knows exactly from whom Michael derived his benevolent spirit.
“Both he and his mom have hearts of gold,” she says. “They are a very giving family – both of them. They have that mindset to give, and it’s from the heart. It’s not for recognition. That’s what they do.”
To buy a wreath or make a donation, email firstname.lastname@example.org.