Wisconsin friends Karen Gonring, Cindy McGray and Denise Serwe use their combined challenge money to collect toys for needy children, buy groceries for lucky shoppers and train a service dog for a boy with diabetes.
They bring their kids along to choose toys for the Marines' Toys for Tots program. "They heard stories about children who otherwise might not see a gift under their tree, and I hope they took a moment to appreciate all that they do have," Karen says.
With another project, they surprise 19 people by paying their grocery bills at the checkout. "Some of those people we spent $8 on, they were just as happy as the family that we spent $80 to $90 on. It wasn't the actual cash in the end, it was the act," Cindy says.
Getting the dog for Kyle, the boy with diabetes, is a costly but vital project. Kyle is sometimes rushed to the hospital because he does not know his blood sugar levels are dangerously off. Dusty, the dog, will alert adults when Kyle is having a problem so that he can get attention before it becomes a crisis. Training Dusty costs around $15,000. Karen, Cindy and Denise donate $1,000 to help Kyle's family with the expense.
After the challenge, Karen lists her "10 lessons learned." Among them—"There are people with ideas, and there are people with ideas who take action. We've had a number of acquaintances who have learned of our challenge and were eager to offer their suggestion on how to help others, some that did not require a huge amount of money. After a while, our response became, 'That's a great idea! Why don't you do that!?'"