This assembly discusses seven year old Charlie’s remarkable fundraising effort for Haiti, highlighting the concerns and efforts of all young fundraisers. It contains a Christian message and a short story from the Bible

Teacher’s introduction
The astonishing fundraising success of seven year old Charlie, who’s raised over £200,000 for UNICEF’s Haiti Earthquake Children’s appeal, has attracted great and very welcome attention. This assembly pays tribute to Charlie, but goes on to remind children that all of their charitable efforts are welcome and useful. The assembly illustrates this with the Bible story of the Widow’s Mite, which compares a small donation from a poor woman to the large ones ostentatiously given by the rich. It’s a Christian story, but the sentiments and principles it expresses are common across all major faiths and belief systems.

Currently there’s a film of Charlie on CBBC Newsround website.

Last week, our assembly told you about the terrible earthquake in Haiti. At the end, we said that people all over the world wanted to help those who had lost their homes and their loved ones or were injured. Since then we’ve learned about the enormous efforts that are being made by governments and charities and individual people. You’ll probably know about the seven year old boy called Charlie Simpson who’s raised a huge amount of money – more than £200,000 so far – to help the children affected by the earthquake in Haiti. He did a sponsored five mile bike ride, round and round the park, and people all over the world liked what he was doing and paid money through a fundraising website.

Last week, Charlie was invited to the Prime Minister’s House at 10 Downing Street in London, and the Prime Minister’s wife, Sarah Brown, thanked him for his efforts. Charlie said afterwards;

‘It was very fun going to the Prime Minister’s house and meeting Sarah Brown. I cycled my bike down Downing Street and even a bit inside! I liked talking to the boys about riding our bikes.’

So, many people in every country are trying to help. What I want to say to you, though, is that although people notice when someone raises a lot of money – thousands of pounds, or hundreds of dollars – it’s important to remember the old saying that goes, ‘Every little helps’. The child who works hard to bake some cakes to sell at school and makes £2 has raised enough to buy some milk for a baby or some bandages for an injured person. If you look at the website through which people send money to Charlie, you’ll see lots of donations that are just £5. Every single gift is appreciated and valuable.

Jesus knew that very well. He knew that for some people a small amount of money is actually a lot, and for others a lot of money is really quite a small amount. Does that sound puzzling? How can a small amount of money be a lot, and a large amount of money be quite small? If you have a think, my guess is you’ll understand that very well. Who would like to explain it? [Take suggestions]

Jesus explained it to his followers like this. He and his friends were in the Temple one day, and they were near to the box that people put donations into. Most places of worship have somewhere like that. It might be a box, or a plate, or a basket that’s passed round. But in most faiths people give some money for charity, or to help to keep the church or temple or mosque in good condition.

Jesus and his friends watched people putting money into the box. Some people put in big amounts in gold coins. Other people only put small amounts. Jesus didn’t want his followers to think that the ones who put in big amounts were better than the ones who just put in a few pennies, so he said;

‘You see how some people give lots of money? These rich men in fine robes who come forward and throw in gold coins and think that they are doing something wonderful? Now did you see that poor widow who came forward and quietly put in two pennies? I’m telling you that the rich men, although they seemed to give a lot, were only giving a small part of their wealth. But the widow was putting in all that she has. She needs that money to buy food, because she has no other money at home. But she has given it to charity instead. Now let me ask you this. Who has given the most? The rich men who have given a small bit of their huge amounts of money? Or the poor woman who has given every bit of money that she has? I ask you again. Who has given the most? Whose gift is most precious?’

His friends knew perfectly well what the answer was of course. The poor widow had really given from her heart, and her gift was made precious by her love and desire to help.

By the way, Charlie was careful to thank the many people who sponsored him on his ride. That’s important to, isn’t it?

‘Thank you for all the money you have given me,’ Charlie said ‘You have been so kind. It will help people get a tent or some water kits and some food. My legs aren’t too achy. Love from Charlie Simpson.’

When money is needed, for whatever reason – to help earthquake victims, to help stop cruelty to children or to animals, to buy rare equipment for hospitals, to buy water pumps for African villages – every fundraising effort is important.

The jumble sale, the cake sale, the sponsored walk, the pocket money gift, the concert – whatever it is, however small, is precious and welcome and appreciated. A few pence can make a big difference. So never be put off by the thought that you can only do a little bit to help people who have big problems. Your small gift may be the one that makes all the difference.

A prayer
Lord, we continue to pray for the people of Haiti. Give them courage and hope. Be with all those who work hard to make things easier for them. Help all fundraisers, large and small, so that the money they raise is carried speedily on its way by love and hope.

A thought
A sincerely offered gift is always precious, and always welcome.

Things to think about
Ask the children to tell you about when they’ve raised money for charity. Let them talk about how they did it, and whether they remember exactly what it was for.


This e-bulletin issue was first published in January 2010

About the author: Gerald Haigh