Joey Murray’s thinking went like this: since he already has so much, why not turn his thirteenth birthday party into a benefit for people who have very little?
So the 13-year-old Sherborn resident and his mom sent out invitations to 90 friends, rented out a community hall, hired a D.J., and when all was said and done, raised $1,200 for Joey’s favorite nonprofit, St. Francis House. That donation made him the youngest member of the Founder’s Society, comprising donors who contribute at least $1,000 in a single fiscal year.
“It felt really good,” says Joey, who admits he was surprised by how much money people contributed. “The people at St. Francis House needed the money more than I needed presents.” Joey’s father, Mike, 6 The Spirit of St. Francis said that the response to his son’s idea was overwhelmingly positive. “People uniformly responded that they’d be delighted to donate to such a terri c organization,” says Mike.
For a fifth-grade project, Joey had been required to do research on a charity and he had chosen St. Francis House, whose breadth of services had impressed him. A couple of years later, when he learned that a friend who was celebrating his own birthday was asking for presents for a homeless boy instead, it sparked the idea for his fundraising party.
His mother, Martha, says that Joey’s grandfather has been influential in instilling his grandchildren with a social conscience. “He often takes our kids to volunteer with him serving dinner at the Salvation Army or Family Promise or on various fundraising walks,” says Martha. “It’s just another example of why intergenerational relationships are so good for our kids.”
The volunteer work has also conveyed a couple of important messages to Joey and his siblings, according to Martha. “They see that the people who need help don’t look any different from anyone else — that it could happen to anyone. But the most important thing they learn is that there is hope — that places like St. Francis House help you get back on your feet. That’s a powerful message.”