Local boys’ philanthropic spirit makes an impact on the world
Once a month, ten boys meet at Ron and Erin Miller’s house. They joke around, catch up on each other’s lives, and devour four pizzas. But when the pizza boxes are empty, the boys turn serious and crowd around the kitchen table, ready to address the reason they came.
Nicholas Smith, Ryan Well, Elliot and Noah McMahon, Joseph, Jacob, and Jeremy Kelly, Calvin and Carter Miller, and Blake Garcia come to help others, ten dollars at a time.
In August 2014, Ron and Erin wanted a way to pass on a philanthropic spirit to their boys, Calvin and Carter, that went beyond parent-initiated acts of service or giving. But what could young boys do by themselves? The family came up with an answer: The boys could create a giving circle and each donate ten dollars.
Erin invited the boys’ former soccer and swimming teammates as well as their siblings. “When I got the email [invitation], I was a little bit nervous. I’m the youngest,” says nine-year-old Jeremy Kelly. “None of the other guys have been on any of my teams. But when I got there, I thought it was really interesting.”
Their first meeting in October 2014 set the foundation for the group. Each member contributes ten dollars a month. One boy gets the pooled hundred dollars and has a month to give it away. At the next meeting, he reports on where he donated the money and how it was used. Most importantly, decisions—from where to donate to how to run the meetings—are controlled by the boys. With all of them in agreement, Ten at a Time was born.
“I agreed because I’ve seen firsthand how people live on the streets and in broken-down homes when I traveled to Columbia, Chile, and South Africa. I just wanted to help them, but I really couldn’t,” says fifteen-year-old Nicholas Smith.
Now Nicholas could help. They could all make a difference, ten dollars at a time. Over the past 18 months, their money—garnered through various jobs, allowances, and birthday gifts—has gone to causes like Operation Smile, a nonprofit that repairs children’s cleft lips and palates; The Locker, a Georgetown nonprofit that provides school supplies and other essential items to students in need; and a local family reeling from the hardships of cancer. “It’s a huge eye-opener to see what we can accomplish and what we can do with just the small amount we have,” says fourteen-year-old Elliot McMahon.
Their giving has also had an impact on them. “I’ve seen these boys change from kids who showed up at my house because they thought it would be fun to hang out with the Millers and have pizza once a month, into young men who are totally lit up by feelings of empowerment and their commitment to do good,” explains Erin.
Looking ahead, the boys hope to encourage others. “I want to inspire people to give willingly and make them realize what it does for other people,” says twelve-year-old Carter Miller.
In May, they’ll hold an informational meeting for boys in grades 6 through 12 who want to start a Ten at a Time chapter. “I see it as an opportunity to get the entire community into giving,” says Elliot. “Georgetown is an amazing place with great people, and I think we all can do so much for the world. We just needed a spark, and I think Ten at a Time can be that spark.”
For more information about Ten at a Time’s mission, participants, and where they’ve donated, or to donate to Ten at a Time, please visit www.10atatime.org.