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The Gift of Giving: Empowering ALICE Through Acts of Generosity

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March 4, 2024

In a world often overshadowed by self-interest, a young Carthage student stands as a prime example of generosity and compassion. At just 14 years old, Leo Bowline exemplifies the spirit of giving, choosing altruism over personal gain year after year. 

Every year in December, Leo selects an organization to raise funds for instead of receiving birthday presents, though his parents still give him the option. A truly remarkable and thoughtful young man, he still chooses to fundraise rather than receive money and gifts for himself. 

“I just decided that it would be better for me to give back than receive more than I needed,” Leo said.

This year, Leo’s heartwarming gesture was directed toward our ALICE program at United Way of Northern New York. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, representing a group of hardworking individuals who don’t qualify for traditional assistance but still find themselves grappling with the rising costs of living, as well as unexpected expenses due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a medical emergency or car repair.

According to Leo’s mom Jessie, he had a list of places he could choose to donate to for this year, and ended up choosing the ALICE program, which we oversee, as it stood out to him the most. “It’s really the people who are trying their best but they still don’t get enough, that’s why I chose it,” Leo said. “Life is expensive.”

When we learned about his generosity, we invited Leo and his family to our office for a chat about his fundraising efforts and supporting the ALICE population. Since that visit, we have been more inspired than ever in our efforts to strengthen communities and support those in need.

This is the fifth year that the 8th grader has asked for donations for others, and has raised $1,530 so far for the ALICE program. “It gives money to the people that are trying their best but they’re not there yet,” Leo said. “It makes me feel really good that I’m helping all those people that need it.”

According to Jessie, anything Leo and his younger brother Elliot bring in during their birthday fundraisers, the family matches dollar for dollar, amplifying the impact of the donations. She noted that there’s still an opportunity if anyone wants to donate to the ALICE program, and the Bowline family will match up to an additional $1,000.

Leo’s journey of giving didn’t begin with ALICE; it’s been a tradition in his family for years. “It started when we’d have birthday parties and invite everyone in the classroom,” Jessie said. The family realized that amidst the flurry of gifts, many remained untouched, so they decided to redirect the abundance towards meaningful causes.

Leo’s younger brother, Elliot, shares in his brother’s commitment to community service. Over the years, they’ve supported various initiatives, from the Safe Schools Endeavor to fundraising for Guitars for Vets and Toys for Tots and Elliot’s chosen cause over the past few years: the Tyler R. Christman Foundation. Their collective efforts have left an indelible mark on their local community.

Reflecting on their sons’ altruism, Jessie and her husband Brandon are full of pride. “They recognize that, in general, a lot of us are more fortunate than others and even when we try it’s sometimes not enough, so they’ve always been very eager to give back to others,” Jessie said.

Leo and Elliot embody the essence of generosity, inspiring those around them to give back and make a difference. As they continue to grow and mature, their commitment to serving others remains unwavering, and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish in the future with their shared goal of uplifting our local communities!

It is truly an honor to live and work united with such philanthropic young men!