How to help
Jasen Kimball is collecting socks and underwear for needy children through April 20. For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“You know what we can do with my money in my piggy bank? I was going to ask you if I could use it for this,” 7-year-old Jasen Kimball said to his mom, as he sat surrounded by more than a hundred packages of new socks and underwear.
The second-grader has collected 129 packages of undergarments for needy children — far more than his initial goal of 70 — and wants to contribute his own funds to the cause.
A “Pay it Forward” chart, made to track his success, is colored in all the way to the top and star stickers are now being used to symbolize donations that have exceeded expectations, but Jasen isn’t ready to call it quits just yet.
The Jefferson Elementary School student is conducting the collection for his school’s Pay it Forward Fair. Students each chose an act of kindness to perform for the event, with the understanding that there will be no payment in return — it is strictly about giving to others. The results will be on display at the school on April 30.
The socks and underwear idea came from Jasen’s mom, Candra Kimball, who volunteers for the Schenectady-based nonprofit Things of My Very Own. The organization provides supportive services to abused, neglected, displaced and at-risk children. She called to see what the organization needed most and found out it was undergarments.
At first, Jasen was a bit baffled about why collecting socks and underwear was a good idea, and was reluctant. That all changed once the donations started to pour in.
“Every week it was, ‘Can we color my chart? Can we fill in my chart?’ ” Kimball recalled.
She shared her son’s project on her Facebook page and friends and strangers alike stepped up to contribute.
“He’s gone with me to pick up every donation, so he can put a face to each person that actually donates,” Kimball noted.
When gift cards are given, Jasen uses them to shop for undergarments for his project. He said he picks out the cool stuff, like Angry Birds underwear and Lava Guy socks.
Although he doesn’t really remember it, Jasen had his own shortage of socks and underwear in 2011, when his home’s basement flooded during Tropical Storm Irene.
“Our laundry room is in the basement, so whatever clothing wasn’t in his room, which was a good portion of it, was in our basement,” Kimball recalled.
All of the flood-damaged clothes were lost and the family had to scramble to make sure they had enough things to wear.
Jasen’s grandfather, Mike LaVallee, said he thought his grandson’s project was a great way to repay past generosity.
“People were very generous out here after the flood and it is really nice to give back, because so many people helped out a lot of people in town,” he said.
The concepts of paying back and paying forward might be slightly lost on a 7-year-old, but Jasen does know one thing for sure: he wants to help other kids.
He will collect donations through April 20th, and just might dip into his own piggy bank to contribute to the cause. He says he’s got $36 in there and is ready to spend it all.