Student asks for birthday donations, not gifts

When Ian Smith turned 8 this winter, there wasn’t a pile of packages for him to unwrap at his birthday party – he and his family wanted it that way.

Rum River Elementary second-grader Ian Smith presents Principal Deb Shepard with a check for Rum River Against Hunger. Ian asked friends to donate money to the cause rather than buy him birthday presents this year. Submitted photo

Rum River Elementary second-grader Ian Smith presents Principal Deb Shepard with a check for Rum River Against Hunger. Ian asked friends to donate money to the cause rather than buy him birthday presents this year. Submitted photo

In lieu of gifts, Ian asked for donations to Rum River Against Hunger, which finances a food-packing event at Rum River Elementary School in Andover each spring.

After his birthday, Jan. 27, Ian presented a check for $170 to his second-grade teacher, Josh Smith, and later, Rum River office staff.

“Isn’t that such a selfless act?” Principal Deb Shepard said. Ian wasn’t looking for recognition when he unceremoniously gave the check to his teacher, she added.

Ian’s parents, Kevin and Carrie Smith, proposed the idea of giving rather than getting to their son some time before his party.

He didn’t relish the thought of giving up presents, but he came around to the idea, Ian’s dad said.

“He had a lot of kids at his party, and he didn’t need a bunch of gifts,” Kevin Smith said. “He’s pretty fortunate.”

Ian’s parents suggested Rum River Against Hunger as a worthy cause for friends to support because most of the party guests, also Rum River students, were familiar with the charity.

For the past five years, the school has brought in ImpactLives to host the packing event in the spring, according to Shepard. In order to pay for the food and ship it to countries across the globe, the school needs to raise $10,000 each year.

Students fundraise all year with a lot of success, Shepard said. “They’re beginning to understand the significance of what it is we’re doing.”

Olivia Koester is at olivia.koester@ecm-inc.com

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