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After receiving prize money from his pack's annual fundraiser, Harland Schmitt decides to donate a portion to help frontline workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harland Schmitt isn’t like most second graders. When he’s not playing with his 4-year-old brother or riding his bike, he’s busy learning knife safety requirements to earn his whittling badge this fall as a newly minted Bear in the Cub Scouts and taking Shotokan Karate classes. He’s also giving prize money he’s earned from his popcorn and goodies sales back to healthcare workers on the frontline.
Armed with a website, a pitch deck and a video, the 8-year old Orrington Elementary student set out with a plan to make money for his troop, Cub Scout Pack 903-Evanston. “Funds from popcorn sales go to annual dues, scholarships for those in need, activities, service projects and equipment,” Harland said. “Last year my pack participated in making to-go lunches for a soup kitchen, a sock drive for veterans, and repainted our school sign.”
Harland, along with his dad, Tim Schmitt, estimates that he knocked on or left a door tag on nearly 300 doors in the neighborhood asking people to buy from the catalog of snacks. “We are so thankful for the surrounding community supporting Harland and his pack with the items they buy,” said Tim Schmitt. “And it comes full circle when the pack can help the community in return.”
Because of his successful sales campaign, Harland earned prize money for himself. After putting half of that money into his college fund, he wanted to do something special with the rest. “At the time, COVID-19 was really bad and I knew that is where I could help people,” he said. Harland decided to donate part of that money to the NorthShore Foundation to give back to the healthcare workers on the frontlines.
Donations to the NorthShore Foundation have supported frontline workers since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Everything from protective equipment to building robust wellness resources has been accelerated with philanthropic funds. Critical funding has also helped NorthShore conduct original research into many aspects of COVID-19.
Giving back to the community is important to Harland’s family. Tim Schmitt wants to impart the importance of giving back to those in need to both of their sons. His mom, Paula Bodnar Schmitt, said that growing up she remembers seeing her parents, who were both teachers, give all they could to the church and to help others. “My dad was active in Kiwanis Club and my mother helped with Meals on Wheels,” she recalls.
Harland made it clear that he will continue to give back where he can. “Why should I just spend it on candy and toys, there’s nothing special about that?” he said. “I worked hard for that money and I wanted to do something that meant something. That’s why I gave.”