Washougal elementary school student donates birthday money to help others

Jordan Adler gives $104 to help Cape Horn-Skye's backpack program

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category icon Life, Schools, Washougal
Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School third-grader Jordan Adler delivers food to the school's backpack program earlier this month. (Submitted photo courtesy of Nikki Adler)

During dinner one night last month, Washougal resident Nikki Adler asked her son, Jordan, what he wanted for his upcoming ninth birthday. His response surprised her — in a good way. 

“I want to give my birthday away,” he said. “I want to help somebody instead of having a birthday.”

Several weeks later, Jordan, a third-grader at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School, purchased several bags of food with $104 of the $200 he received from his mother as a birthday present. The next day, he donated the food to the school’s backpack program, which collects and distributes food for students in need.

“I couldn’t be any more proud of him,” Nikki said. “When he told me what he wanted to do with his birthday gift, I cried tears of joy. I thought he’d want a new basketball or remote control car. Even when I gave him the cash, I thought that he might change his mind and buy something for himself.”

At first, Jordan wanted to donate to a hospital or to a person on the side of a road with a “help” sign. But when he heard that the school’s backpack program was in need of donations, his decision was made.

Jordan said that he hopes his actions will encourage his fellow students to help those in need.

“(He got the idea to donate) from watching a commercial that showed kids eating from a landfill, and it spoke to his heart,” Nikki said. “Then he saw how the backpack program helped one of his friends at school.”

On Feb. 27, his birthday, Jordan received a wallet, gift-wrapped, containing $200 in cash. On March 8, he went on a shopping spree.

“We went to Grocery Outlet, Safeway and Costco,” Nikki said. “I told him to buy foods that kids can make on their own without the assistance of an adult, something they can make quickly, and he had a lot of fun with that. He made sure to get a lot of what he likes fruit snacks, fruit cups, cereal, soup, canned goods, pastas.”

The next day, Nikki who works as a support professional at Cape Horn-Skye sent Jordan to her car during a recess session to load the bags of food into a cart, which he then wheeled into the building.

“Jordan’s contribution was amazing,” said the school’s principal, Penny Andrews. “What a difference his donation made to our spring boxes. We encourage all students to have empathy for others and to ‘put themselves in someone else’s shoes,’ and Jordan is a great example of this. We couldn’t be prouder of him.”

Of course, Jordan still has $96 to his name. But if he has his way, it will be gone before long.

“I’m still kind of fighting with him to buy something for himself,” Nikki said. “But he wants to donate the rest. He’ll just donate it in a different way. He just doesn’t want to spend on himself this year.”

That behavior is not atypical for Jordan, according to Nikki.

“It’s not entirely shocking,” she said. “He just has that kind of personality. During recess, he’ll stay in to help clean his classroom. He’ll forego (participating) in special projects that most kids find fun to be the ‘helper.’ He always helps his ‘nana’ in the garden. Almost to a fault, he always wants to help out with projects even if he’s not able to (help). He’s super helpful. He was born with it.”

He was also born with a love of the outdoors, according to his mother.

“He loves basketball, and he is a gardener,” Nikki said. “We have five acres of land and he finds ways to fill it out with flowers and bushes. He likes to be outside and play basketball and play in the dirt.”