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Events Happening Around Utah

Events Happening Around Utah

For his Birthday, Third-grader Gives a Gift to Roots & Shoots
05/13/2008

How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you have a party and invite your friends? Do you have a cake and make a wish as you blow out the candles? You probably get presents too. Well, Matthew Raines in Salt Lake City, Utah did something very different for his birthday.

It all started when the third-grader received an assignment to write a book report on someone who he felt had greatly contributed to our world. Matthew loves animals, and Dr. Jane has always inspired him, so he decided to do his report on her.

While researching for his project, Matthew went to the Jane Goodall Institute's website and saw that he could donate money to become a Chimpanzee Guardian. He had already saved $70 (USD) of his own money. Since his birthday was coming up, he asked his classmates and friends to donate money, instead of bringing him a present. Matthew's goal was to raise $250 (USD), but he raised much more than that for a total of $605 (USD)!

When Dr. Jane came to Salt Lake City a week later, Matthew was able to meet her.

"For some strange reason," Matthew said, "when I first met her, it felt as though I was meeting an old friend I hadn't seen in years. She really taught me about how bad we are treating our world and the environment. Not many people get to meet the person they did their biography report on. How cool is that?"

Matthew presented Dr. Jane with a card he had made for her along with the money he had raised for chimps. Matthew was very excited to meet his hero!

"I had a really fun time meeting Dr. Jane," he said. "It was one of the best nights of my life!"

Matthew's generosity not only helped JGI, but it also made him feel good about himself—and got him some media coverage.

When the reporter asked Matthew why he decided to donate his birthday money, he said, "I love monkeys and I just want to help save the environment, so I just raised a lot of money for Jane Goodall."

Although he didn't get conventional presents for his birthday, Matthew had a birthday experience that will stay with him for a very long time.