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The YMCA Fundraising Campaign

Illustration of the YMCA swimming class

Last week, I finished all my 4th grade lessons! I took the last test to turn in so that I can get a transcript.

We are leaving Hawaii and moving to Maryland this month, so Mom wanted to finish up homeschooling before that. That means I’m starting a summer vacation way earlier than other kids! In order to achieve this goal, I had to work on 7 lessons instead of 5 lessons within 5 weekdays. It's like going to school on Saturdays and Sundays! I have been working really, really hard.

When I worked on my math lessons, Mom gave me coins as a reward. Sometimes she gave me a penny for one problem, sometimes she gave me a quarter for one page. I have a beautiful ceramic bowl for those reward coins, and I loved hearing the sound it made every time I dropped a coin in it. When the bowl got full, I moved the coins into a big Tupperware.

Towards the end of the 4th grade lessons, my reward coins were almost overflowing from the Tupperware. Mom told me that I could buy any toy I liked with that money and asked, “What are you going to buy?”

When I started this reward system, Mom asked the same question. Back then I answered that I wanted to buy a Tiffany necklace, solid gold with a real diamond. I read in a magazine on an airplane that cheap fashion jewelries have no resale values after buying, but Tiffany jewelries do not depreciate.

But this time, I decided to donate the coins to the YMCA I go to. I’ve been taking swimming lessons twice a week. The idea came to my mind on the spot, and my Mom thought it was an wonderful idea, so we went to the YMCA and dropped it off.

A few days later, Mom received a phone call from the office. She was talking on the phone for a while, and when she hung up, she said, “Well, they called us to say thank you for those coins we donated. I never thought that what we did would be so appreciated!” That made me feel good too.

Here’s a letter I wrote to the YMCA and the families who go there…

The Letter to the YMCA Families

Hi, my name is Ema Tiefel, and I’m 9 years old. I live in Kaimuki, and I have been taking swimming classes at the YMCA.

I am homeschooling. When I finish a worksheet or an assignment, my Mom gives me coins as a reward.

When my Tupperware full of coins got really, really full, Mom asked me, “Now you have a lot of money! What are you going to buy with this?”

I thought about it. Then I remembered that one Saturday morning, when I was drying off after a swimming class, two older girls came to my Mom and said, “Hi! Would you like to donate coins? That will help kids who cannot afford to come to the Y.”

Mom said “Sure!” And dropped all the quarters she had in her coin purse into their tin can. The girls gasped and smiled big, and said, “Thank you!” Mom smiled too and said, “Well, thank you for talking to me!”

To be honest, I was mad at that time because she gave away all the quarters to buy my after-class snacks.

But… when Mom asked me what I was going to do with all those coins I saved up, I thought about that day.

I told Mom that I could donate the coins to the Y, because I really liked my swimming classes there. I have so many good memories there. So we made a little thank you note together, taped it on the Tupperware full of coins, and brought it to the office.

When we got a thank you email from the YMCA, it made me smile. Actually, I squealed with excitement. I liked that what I did made many people smile, like a domino effect.

We are going to leave Hawaii and move to the mainland in a few weeks, so I’m so glad that I could make another good memory through what I did before saying good-bye to this island.


…And here’s a video of me reading this letter:

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