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Giving is generational for one Sycamore family

3 Miller boys active donors to Give DeKalb County fundraiser

The Miller brothers (from left) Josh, 9, Luke, 9, and Nate, 11, talk about how philanthropy played a role in their upbringing Monday at the DeKalb County Community Foundation building, 475 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore.
The Miller brothers (from left) Josh, 9, Luke, 9, and Nate, 11, talk about how philanthropy played a role in their upbringing Monday at the DeKalb County Community Foundation building, 475 DeKalb Ave. in Sycamore.

SYCAMORE – Kristin and Scott Miller of Sycamore, as do most parents, give their three sons a weekly allowance. It varies, depending on which chores the boys tackle.

But Nate, 11, and 9-year-old twins Josh and Luke Miller each have three jars to put their allowance money in, labeled "spend," "save" and "give." Every year for the Give DeKalb County fundraiser, they bring their "give" jars to the DeKalb County Community Foundation and choose a charity on their own to give the money to, Kristin Miller said.

"All we do is drive them here," she said.

Miller, who has a professional background in working with nonprofit organizations and fundraising in general, said all three boys have given part of their earnings to organizations such as Pay-It-Forward House and Tails Humane Society in the past couple of years as part of the countywide fundraiser. She said the three boys are still thinking about which organizations to give that money to this year, but she and her husband plan on matching donated amounts coming from their sons.

Scott Miller said the reason he and Kristin put a heavy emphasis on giving back is so their children can become lifetime active members of their community.

"It's not going to get better if you don't invest in it," he said.

Thursday will be a golden opportunity to join in giving back, during the fifth annual Give DeKalb County fundraiser. Ben Bingle, director of DeKalb County nonprofit partnership for the DeKalb County Community Foundation, said more than $465,000 was donated last year – a high-water mark for the event “by a noticeable amount,” he said.

During the 24 hours after the clock strikes midnight Wednesday, you can join the Miller family in giving back by visiting and making a donation to an organization of your choice. You also can visit the foundation at 475 DeKalb Ave. with cash or a check, Bingle said, but the person who writes the check must be the person who drops it off.

Josh said he and his twin brother, Luke, usually choose to give their money and time to organizations that help animals, such as Oaken Acres Wildlife Center. They both talked about how they first found out about the organization after they brought in a baby squirrel that fell out of a tree in their neighborhood.

"It makes us feel really good, because we're helping animals," Josh Miller said.

Before he and his brothers started participating in Give DeKalb County every year, Luke said they would usually request a specific cause for birthday party attendees to give to instead of asking for presents. Kristin Miller said that Nate brought in a couple of hundred dollars in donations for Hope Haven from one birthday party a few years ago.

Nate said he likes using opportunities to give back to the community because it eventually will affect everyone. He said it was definitely better to collect donations for his chosen cause for a birthday party as opposed to getting a bunch of toys that he might think are cool for only a month or so.

"You don't need stuff for yourself all the time," Nate said.

Kristin Miller said it was important for her and her husband to raise their children with a strong sense of philanthropy. She said it's part of the family's character, no matter what age you are.

"You can do that when you're 2 or 102," she said.

Bingle echoed that sentiment.

“Give DeKalb County is an event for all ages and it’s so encouraging to see families like the Millers using this opportunity to help their children get excited about giving back," he said.

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