on Nov 24, 20

A birthday well spent

You may recognise her as the national coordinator for School Strike 4 Climate NZ or the District Councillor for Kāpiti Coast, but what you may not know about Sophie Handford is her determination to reduce waste and unnecessary gifts by gifting her 20th birthday to KidsCan.

Sophie’s birthday may have been a small celebration amongst family this year, but it made a positive impact on New Zealand children in need by raising $90 through her birthday registry.

Sophie was determined to reduce the amount of waste and unnecessary gifts that come from birthdays by giving her friends and family the option to donate instead of buying her physical gifts. In fact, this is the second time Sophie has gifted her birthday to KidsCan through The Good Registry. In 2018 she raised $100 for the same charity.

“This is really cool because I can create an avenue for people to make a difference when previously they would have just been giving me gifts that I potentially don’t need or don’t want,” she said. “Also the whole zero waste thing, there’s no wrapping paper involved, there’s no sellotape involved, there’s none of that, but it’s simply just that impact of what even a small amount of money can do and that is a really good way of being able to make an impact yourself through creating a space for other people to make an impact too.”

While she also received some gifts (including the essential underwear and socks from her parents) she thinks that even if half of the value of usual birthday gifts is directed to charity, it is a win. She says that ideally, she wouldn’t have to accept any gifts in the future, with all gifts being replaced with donations, so next year she plans to make her registry more well known.

When deciding on which amazing charity to support, Sophie chose to raise money for KidsCan because she is passionate about raising the voices of youth and allowing young people to play a role in the solutions to climate change. After researching the statistics on how many children in New Zealand are helped by KidsCan Sophie was inspired to raise money for such a reputable and important nation-wide charity.

Since 2005, KidsCan has provided 31 million food items, 196,000 pairs of shoes and socks, 386,000 raincoats and 900,000 health items to children in need across New Zealand.

“If these children are in a position where poverty isn’t on the top of their minds and they’re not just thinking about where their food might come from next or how they’re going to get a lunch to eat at school and all of those kinds of things then they’ll have the ability to actually think more about the issues and the opportunities facing us as young people, so it’s also that hierarchy of needs,” she said.

“I’m in a position where I can think about the climate crisis because I have a roof over my head, I have everything I need, so I think that it’s all relative.”

Her motivation to do Good in all aspects of her life comes from understanding the limited amount of time we have on this planet and wanting to be part of making the world a better place for future generations. “I don’t want to sit back and watch my decisions being made for me. I want to be involved to know that I was able to play a small role in making sure that I have a positive impact with my life,” she said.

When asked what she would say to anyone else considering gifting their birthday to charity through The Good Registry, she would say that it is easy to do, only taking her five minutes to set up, but it creates an avenue for people to make a positive impact with very little effort involved.

“I didn’t push out the registry too much but I still raised $90 and that will go to making sure one kid or two kids or however many kids have a slightly brighter future. Knowing that I was able to do that through not a whole lot of effort but through simply using the position that I am in is a really cool way to have an impact. So I’d say it doesn’t take long and it’s a great way also to bring other people along in that journey as well.”

With Christmas just one month away, Sophie is considering ways to further support charitable and sustainable giving around the holidays. Her usual Christmas present shopping is done at Trade Aid, but this year her friends and family may be surprised with a Good Gift Card alongside her usual block of Trade Aid chocolate.

- By Caitlin Turner 

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