Fifth-grader raises $400 for others at unique birthday party

By Richard Ploch | Apr 01, 2013
Photo by: Joanna Parham Cayli Parham (left) and Lani Woods at Cayli's Mustache Bash birthday party.

Most of us want to be people of kindness and generosity, but it is extra special when we learn that someone as young as 11 is already finding ways to ease the burdens that others carry through life.

Cayli Parham, a fifth-grade student at Bethel Elementary School, was aware that some children do not have good shoes and warm homes.

“There was this commercial that I saw,” said Cayli, and it said, ‘I already have everything I need’ and so I decided to give something to somebody else. I kind of took after that.”

Cayli plays on two basketball teams and as she and her mom drove to a game in Franklin earlier this year, she spotted a sign along the highway.

“It showed an Asian child who didn’t have any shoes and bad clothes and said ‘end hunger today.’”

When they returned home they talked with Bethel Guidance Counselor Tracy Fowler to see if there is a need to help some of the children at the school.

“My mom and I talked about how it would be good to help others by raising money or bringing food or donating clothing,” she said.

Fowler knew what was needed — clothes, shoes, backpacks, school supplies, heating assistance and food.

“She said there is a huge need for backpacks,” said Joanna Parham, Cayli’s mother. “And also for the heating assistance fund for families. I knew there was a real issue with that but I did not know there was actually a fund set up here (at school). It all sort of fell into place when we saw the sign that day and then we started talking about what we could do.”

Cayli’s birthday was soon to follow on Feb. 20.

When the party invitations were sent to her friends they read, “No presents please. If you’d like to help, we’re raising money for heating assistance and other needs at the school.”

Some of Cayli’s friends said she couldn’t have a party without presents.

“And I said I’d rather not have presents,” said Cayli. “Some of the girls then said, ‘I’ll bring a donation and also a present for you.’”

When all the donations came in the total was $395. Her mother added the additional dollars and $400 was given to the school fund for special needs.

“It felt good,” Cayli said quietly.

“The week after her birthday she came to my office with $400,” said Fowler. “I was flabbergasted but elated. I am so proud of Cayli! We can change the world one kind act at a time!”

According to her fifth-grade teacher, Traci Brooks, Cayli is a straight-A student and has perfect attendance.

“I really do have a great group of students this year and their kindness is amazing. Cayli's kind deed has touched my heart greatly,” she said.

Fowler responded, “I guess what I am most proud of is that she gets it. It doesn't matter what you have but how you use it. I would be surprised if this was the last extraordinary thing she did.”

Fowler is right. There’s more to come. Joanna says that Cayli still wants to do a shoe fundraiser and collect shoes for others.

One kind act at a time.