One warm summer day when Sergio was ten years old he reckons, maybe eleven, he went to the beach with a few friends to enjoy a swim. The beach was a short walk from Sergio’s house and they went there often. In the shallow waters at the far end of beach where the forest begins, they discovered a bunch of fresh water clam shells. The shells had long since been abandonned by the clams, which only have a lifespan of about six months, so they were safe to collect.
Sergio and his friends began gathering the shells and within a few minutes they had collected over 30 shells.
Then Sergio had an idea! They would take the shells back to his house, paint them, and sell them. They could use the money to buy candy. His friends enthusiastically agreed!
One of the kids had a bag in his knapsnack which they quickly filled before heading back to Sergio’s. There, they spread out the clams on the back deck to dry. His parents didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they were just as excited as the kids.
By now, it was dinner time, so the kids all agreed they would return the next morning with their model airplane paints and paint brushes to complete the job.
After dinner, Sergio opened an encyclopedia to do a little research. He discovered that freshwater clams are actually called, fresh water bivalves and they are part of the mollusk family. Bivalve refers to the two-sided shell. When he told his friends what he had learned, they thought it was interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the candy they planned to buy!
Sergio’s friends returned the next morning at exactly 10 a.m. and they got right to work. It took a little longer than they had estimated to complete the job, but that’s what can happen whe you set out to create a Monet out of a clam shell.
In any event, they finished painting all of the shells by mid-afternoon, then left them in a safe place in the garage to dry. The shells were actually quite colorful and creative! They put a lot of care into it!
Clam shells secured, they gathered on the back deck to enjoy the lemonade Sergio’s mom had prepared and discuss the selling price for their water-borne treasures. Given the time they had invested [my word, not theirs] and the cost of the paint, they agreed that $1.50 per shell was a fair price. They also agreed to return the next morning at the same time to start selling their product [again, my word, not theirs].
As agreed, everyone showed up on time and they again got right to work. They borrowed Sergio’s dad’s table from the garage, at no charge, and set up a stand in front of Sergio’s house. One of his friends had painted a sign which they hung off the front of the table.
Within a few minutes, they had their first customers … a couple of kids from down the street. They liked the shells but didn’t have $1.50 to buy one.
Next was an elderly couple out for their morning walk. They thought the clams were cute but really had no need for one, and so, didn’t make a purchase. Several more adults passed by, politely declining to make a purchase.
For the next two hours, only one person passed by, but he was a teenager. He thought their clams were a dumb idea!
Things continued to go slowly and by 2 p.m. they had not sold one clam. Then Sergio had an idea! “Let’s move down to the corner,” he suggested. “We’ll see more people.”
The group of would-be clam shell entrepreneurs moved down to the corner where … their luck was no better than before. Most of the people who passed by, paid them no attention, and those that did, politely declined, for one reason or another. Disappointed, the group packed up and headed back to Sergio’s, where Sergio’s mother served them lemonade.
They discussed their experience at length and concluded that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea afterall. Maybe people didn’t want painted clam shells. They felt kind of discouraged.
Then Sergio had an idea!
The family next door had a little boy with Down’s Syndrome. His name was Jeremy and the school he had been attending was recently closed due to some problems with the building. The children were being temporarily schooled at another location until a new school was built. Sergio suggested that they donate all of the proceeds from the sale of the clam shells to the new school. Everyone agreed that this was a great idea!
So, the next morning they went back to the corner with a new sign and a new sense of purpose … to help build the new school for Sergio’s neighbor. They also had a new sign. It read, Special Painted Clam Shells For Sale … All proceeds to help build the new Victoria Street School for the Mentally Challenged. [Sergio’s father helped them with the wording.]
And wouldn’t you know it! In less than three hours they had sold all of the shells. Some people gave them money without taking any shells and several others told them to, “keep the change,” when they paid for their shells.
Excited as could be, Sergio and his friends packed up the stand and raced back to Sergio’s to count the money and tell his parents about their good fortune! Actually, one of the group [who was good at math], kept track of their sales as they went, so they had a pretty good idea of how much money they had, but they wanted to be sure.
Two people took turns counting the cash, both matching their original count. They had raised $77.
They all started cheering and high-fiving each other! That was pretty cool!
Next, they all marched over to Jeremy’s house to give his mother the money. She suggested that they give the money to the school Principal instead. She called the Principal and arrangements were made for the money to be dropped off the next morning at 10 a.m.
The next morning, Sergio and his friends, plus Jeremy and his mother, all walked over to the Principal’s house. She lived within walking distance. Unbeknownst them, the Principal had called the local newspaper, who sent over a reporter to take pictures and interview the group. Nobody had ever been interviewed before and it was an awesome moment for everyone concerned.
The following week when the paper came out, Sergio’s friends raced over to his house to check it out. And wouldn’t you know it, their picture was on the front page. The article called them great humanitarians, [which Sergio’s mother had to explain], and they all felt enormous pride. It was a magical moment and they were thrilled to share it with Jeremy!
Wishing you an awesome day!
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