is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. I found the idea of Giving Tuesday on one of my sleepless nights researching things that could possibly help Smiles From Drew. I loved the idea of having a day that is devoted to giving to others and helping those organizations that do so much work throughout the year to help those that could use a hand up.
When I decided to start Smiles From Drew it was just a little niggle of an idea in the back of my mind. I wanted to do some “pay it forwards” to help keep Drew’s memory. I wanted the chance to be able to talk about Drew and not feel guilty for doing so. I wanted everyone to know about Drew and all the wonderful things he did when he was here. I paid for people’s coffee and lunches. I would make things and send them to people who weren’t expecting it. It was then that I found out that the more that I did for others the better it made me feel. The gut wrenching pain of losing Drew was just a dimmed a little by the acts that I was doing for others. I guess you can say the reason I do the things I do is pretty selfish. I help others because it make me feel better. Here is a link to print your own Pay it Forward For Drew Lighthall cards. Click here —-> pass-along-card-8up-drew-page
It wasn’t long after starting the pay it forward projects that I realized that I wanted more for what was soon to be Smiles From Drew. I also realized I was going broke trying to do all this on my own. I was talking to a friend and we were talking about how much Drew loved football and wouldn’t it be great if we could help kids play football. I guess it’s like any other great adventure it all starts with a dream and then you start putting your feet to the pavement and try to make it happen. I had never worked with a non-profit much less start one, I had no idea what I was doing but I knew that this was really important. Smiles was not only important for the kids that wanted to play football but it was important for me. I needed to feel like I was still mothering Drew and this is the only way I know how to do it. Growing Smiles has given me the opportunity to think of Drew at moments that aren’t just sad.
I talked to other parent’s that have lost children that had started a non-profit or is in the process like I am. I even started a Facebook page for us to all support each other. Every single person was doing this for the same reason I was. We want our children remembered we NEED them to be remembered by more people than just us. If you are a parent of a child no longer here on earth just message me and I will add you to the group. I researched and did more research. I wanted to make sure I did this whole non-profit thing right. I wanted to make sure that Smiles was official. I got a few of my friends that I could guilt into helping and found some fundraisers for us to do. We sold t-shirts, coffee, and candy bars. If I saw that a company did fundraisers I signed us up for it. I’m glad I did this so soon after Drew died cause I had the sympathy factor in the beginning. People were very giving and we were able to pay for us to become a 501 C 3 non-profit corporation. My goal was to be official before Drew’s birthday on May 1. We got our paperwork from the IRS on April 28!!! We did it.
It wasn’t long before I realized all that was the easy part. The hard part was getting people to keep supporting me. The hard part is keeping the momentum after almost 16 months after Drew’s death and making people realize why Smiles From Drew is important not only to me but the countless other people we could possibly help. We were lucky enough to help 12 kids play football this season. Me and a friend went to almost every game to help support the kids and to help keep our name out there. We sold t-shirts and personalized football. It was a lot of work but it was worth it. To see those boys out on the field and having a good time it was all worth it.
I can see Smiles doing so much more. I can see Smiles helping kids with karate lessons, swim lessons, piano. The ideas are endless. The only problem is money. It takes money for us to be able to do all this. Small non-profits like us are hindered by the lack of people knowing about us. If people don’t know about us they can’t help us. It’s hard to get our name out in the public when you don’t have that many people to help you do it. That is why I post on Facebook so much. It isn’t so much for the people who have helped me in the past but they may have friends that have friends that something about what we do touches them and they will give to us. Share my posts, tell people about us. Let people know what we want to do. If you got some extra time let me know and I have so much to do that I don’t have time for. Word of mouth is a life saver for small organizations like us. If you would like to help us you can visit our website and donate at Click Here to visit the website. You can also visit our Facebook page and donate there or just to learn more about what we are doing Click Here to visit our Facebook page. Please like it and share it, you never know who will see it. It just takes one moment to make a difference.