Last month I was honored to meet Skye Burttschell, the Central Coast’s National Philanthropy Day 2013 Outstanding Philanthropic Youth. Skye’s smile and energy are infectious, as is his passion and desire to help a local organization near and dear to his heart—Dance Kids of Monterey County. I was pleased to sit down with Skye, a fifth grader, earlier this month for an interview to learn more about his own efforts to give back to his community.
Deborah: How would you define philanthropy?
D: Tell me more about your story and why you were honored.
S: I was honored because I raised money by tie-dying scarves. I raised the money for Dance Kids of Monterey County.
D: Why are they important to you?
S: Because I love the Nutcracker and it’s like a family, a fun family.
D: So, you’ve performed with them?
S: Yes, for five years.
D: And, what made you want to raise money for them?
S: I think it was four years ago they said they might not be able to have the Nutcracker. And then I went up to Alan Richmond, the producer, and said, “Does this mean we’re not going to have another Nutcracker?” And he said, “We’re going to have another one even if I have to sell my kidney.” So, when that happened I thought maybe we could tie-dye scarves and raise money.
D: Why did you think of tie-dying scarves? Is that something you do?
S: That was my mom’s idea.
D: Where do you sell the scarves?
S: I sell them at my dad’s store, the first store on the right going down Ocean Avenue [in Carmel]—Palomas Home Furnishings.
D: And how much money did you raise?
S: The first year I raised $500. Last year I raised $1,000.
D: Have you involved anyone else in your process?
S: Me, my mom, and some of my friends help me. They helped me with the tie-dye design. We did the chemical color stuff.
D: Why is this organization so important to you?
S: Because my family, my cousins used to be in it. And I kind of just want to take it down [through] the generations. It’s a tradition. Dance Kids means family, very fun, passionate family.
D: What have you learned from your philanthropy or giving?
S: It’s good to put people first and not just you and be giving.
D: Did you learn that from family, school?
S: I don’t know. I just know how to do it.
D: What does giving mean to you?
S: Like putting people first like I said and making sure they’re feeling okay.
D: How do you think giving at a young age will help you later in life?
S: It will make me learn what to do and what not to do. So I won’t mess up. But when you mess up you learn what to do. It’s an opportunity to learn.
D: Do you see your parents giving back?
S: My mom has donated her time backstage at Dance Kids.
D: What has this experience been like for you?
S: It’s been very cool, fun, happy.
Skye refers to himself as an actor and has just wrapped up another production of the Nutcracker. He’s looking forward to being in an upcoming performance of Dr. Doolittle. Watch for him at a theater near you!
I was pleasantly surprised at the end of our time together when Skye graciously presented me with one of his gorgeous tie-dyed scarves. This gift holds special meaning to me of the power of a young philanthropist. I hope his giving spirit only continues to blossom as he grows up!