Sep 27, 2013
Anna Murphy of Stafford Springs: Future Soccer Star, Philanthropist at 11
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For many years, Anna’s family has collected pennies, which her mother would count just before Christmas and then donate to a family in need of heating oil. “I remember wondering why we did that, when we also didn’t have a lot of money and had a tough time paying for oil, too,” said Anna. “My mom would always tell me ‘it is better to give than receive.’”
Anna took that message to heart. She wrote a letter to her fourth-grade teacher, asking if her entire class could collect pennies for her cause, which she called “Warming Families Makes Cents.” The teacher and class were excited to help. But Anna didn’t stop there. Again, she got out her paper and began writing to local businesses. Several of the businesses offered to match whatever her class collected, and a furnace company agreed to throw in free furnace cleanings for the recipient families. That Christmas, two families in Anna’s town had full oil tanks, thanks to the efforts of Anna and her team. “I will never forget the feeling I got when my mom and I called the families to let them know they would be receiving a gift of oil,” said Anna. “The happiness in their voices made me feel so warm inside.” This year, she publicized her project through Facebook and a webpage she created, and put collection jars all over town. Another school in her district also agreed to collect pennies for her cause. Anna Initially set out to collect enough pennies to help three families stay warm, but now she is on her way to helping six families.
The total of six families cited in the Prudential announcement in the early part of this year has become nearly 10 families at this point. The penny drive, meanwhile, continues year-round, and Anna has brought other schools into the effort. She also works with businesses to add to the fund-raising and has even consulted the municipal social services department as part of her efforts.
“Pretty soon she’s going to start knocking on doors” for contributions, Becky Murphy said this week, noting how much of a help the local Rotary Club has been with the initiative.
“I don’t think she realized how big it was going to get,” Becky said, explaining that there’s an outreach now to Safe Net Ministries. “We’re trying to work in cooperation with them.”
As a result of all of this, Anna said her friends and classmates “look up to me.” And, Becky added, “Someone showed up at our door with a Teddy bear,” as a way of saying thank you for the help.
“The best part,” Anna said, “is probably calling the families and telling them they’re going to be warm this winter.”