Saving the world one degree at a time.
|Matthew Norton was organized. He had a map of the neighborhood on the wall in his bedroom with colored push-pins marking the individual homes. Red for families that were willing to give a lot, blue for families that had moved in that year, and yellow for the ones that never gave a single cent. There were a lot of yellow thumbtacks.
Matthew frowned as he studied them. He formulated the diagram based off of his sixth grade year. That was when the schools were pushing the students to sell candy bars. Half of the proceeds went to the school budget and half went to Sparkling Whites — a dental charity based in Ghana. As per the norm, his neighborhood was sorely lacking in the giving department. After agonizingly long days of beating on doors, he had to go back to school with the measly sum of fifty bucks. The entire class laughed at him and his teacher, Mrs. Partridge, flapped her hands like a duck trying to take off and shooed him to the principal's office for lack of participation.
"This year's gonna be different!" Matthew vowed, slamming a fist against his desk. "This year I have a plan!"
Humming the theme song to Mission Impossible, Matthew smashed open the cardboard box that had arrived via FedEx that afternoon. A wide grin stretched across his freckled face as he lifted the merchandise out of the box and hugged it to his chest. The pile practically obstructed his view as he clomped down the stairs and to the garage where his Radio Flyer was stored. The mound nearly slipped from the wagon as he pulled it out of the garage and down the sidewalk but after adjusting the stack, Matthew was able to continue on his journey.
"First stop, old man Jenkins." Matthew took a deep breath and knocked on the door. The last time he ventured up the cracked steps Jenkins barked in his face louder than his German Shepherd.
"Whadd'ya want?" Jenkins snapped, squinting as a beam of sunlight hit him in the face. He kicked back his snarling dog and crossed his arms over his chest. "Yer not tryin' to sell more candy, are ya? I already told ya I'm diabetic! What're ya tryin' to do? Kill me? Kids these days." Matthew patiently waited until Jenkins trailed off before jumping in with his spiel.
"Tomorrow is Warm Sweater Day, sir. In honor of that event, I'm passing out sweaters to everyone in the neighborhood." Matthew yanked a sweater from the tangled pile in the wagon, glanced at Mr. Jenkins, and then tossed it back and pulled one out in a bigger size. Mr. Jenkins sniffed as Matthew handed him the gold sweater. Snapping it open, he narrowed his eyes and read the front.
National Warme Truindag
Saving the Earth one degree at a time!
"Warmee True-in-dag...Boy, I don't wear shirts that I don't understand."
Matthew rubbed away the heat that was spreading along the back of his neck. He pointed at the words and stuttered, "I...it just means 'Warm Sweater Day' in Dutch."
Jenkins rubbed the cotton sleeve and nodded. "Amazin' the things they teach in school these days. My teacher's never woulda thought to teach us Dutch." The dog shoved past Mr. Jenkins and licked the sweater.
"Looks like ole Butch likes yer gift. He don't like much these days, ornery 'ol coot. I guess I'll take it." Matthew reached forward and tugged at the sweater before the old man could disappear inside his house. The dog gave a warning growl, causing Matthew to flinch and fall back a step.
"Sir? Um, it's not exactly free. You see, I'm trying to earn money for our school. For every donation of twenty dollars you get a free sweater." When Mr. Jenkins started to growl with ole Butch, Matthew's tongue tripped over itself. He started talking faster, hoping neither man or beast would decide to bite him. "Half the money goes to the school for a field trip in the spring and the other half goes to Computers for Infants, a charity devoted to saving energy by teaching kids at the youngest age possible to "Go Green".
There was an awkward silence as Mr. Jenkins glared. Butch took the opportunity to grab the sleeve of the sweater in his mouth and yank it from his owner's grasp. With one flick of the tail the dog scooted back inside the house. Mr. Jenkins sighed and pulled out his wallet. "I guess ole Butch wants one of yer sweaters. Since it's fer such a good cause, I'll take one fer myself, too." Matthew beamed as Mr. Jenkins pressed two twenty dollar bills into his hand.
"Don't forget to lower your heat a few degrees tomorrow," Matthew smiled. "It's part of the tradition of Warm Sweater Day." Mr. Jenkins rolled his eyes and slammed the door. Matthew shrugged and mentally replaced the yellow pin that had pierced old man Jenkins' house with a red one. He was off to a good start!