Planting the seeds of giving

Daniel Island kids target local charities through Young Philanthropist Contest

One of those classic images of childhood and summer is a lemonade stand made of plywood, homemade signs, and an eager youth ready to make a sales pitch and a little money. The Daniel Island Property Owners Association (POA) channeled that working spirit in local kids with a recent competition that also helped area nonprofit organizations.

For the length of the summer, contestants in the Young Philanthropist Contest operated a small business. They could select one of 13 local charities identified by the Daniel Island Community Foundation in four categories: human services, children, education and nature/environment.

The money raised by the kids will be donated to the charity of their choice and matched by the Daniel Island Community Foundation. There were five contestants for the competition, ranging in age from seven to 13.

“There’s a lot of big-hearted families and kids on the island, so we decided to issue a challenge and get the kids thinking around which of these charities might they like to support,” said contest coordinator Carina Buckman, a Daniel Island resident.

Taking home the top prize as the winning young philanthropist was 10-year-old island resident Christian Bussinelli, who created and operated a golf cart cleaning service to benefit the Berkeley County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). The fundraising champ conceived the business three years ago as a way to show his appreciation to all the dads in his neighborhood.

“It was 2015, when it was Father’s Day, and I found a cardboard box that I used for a project,” he remembered. “I went out there and said ‘free golf cart cleaning for Father’s Day.’”

“We used the contest as a jumping off point, because he’s been talking about this for a long time,” said Christian’s mother, Lisa Bussinelli.

Christian set up a Facebook page and a page for his golf cart cleaning service, to make appointments easier to manage. He chose to support the Berkeley County SPCA, as it is the only no-kill shelter in the county.

“I had nothing else to do in the summer, and I wanted to help the animals,” said Christian.

Christian’s father Dan Bussinelli is very proud of the effort his son put into the business. “Winning’s one thing, but it’s more about how hard he worked at it,” he said. “He was out there sometimes three times a day, hot, scrubbing, cleaning, getting underneath the golf carts. He really worked hard at it. Winning was just a nice little pat on the back for him.”

The Daniel Island Property Owners Association developed the idea to get kids involved in charitable pursuits.

“We wanted to encourage kids from Daniel Island to think of ways that they could support local nonprofit organizations,” said Danielle Hermann, recreation and communications manager for the POA.

Buckman added that it’s an important opportunity for children to see how lucky they are, and to understand the importance of giving back when they’re in a good place.

Three other participants also helped out the Berkeley County SPCA. Avery Steel and Felix Brown sold homemade dog treats, and Nichella Allen sold cookies that she baked.

“We are always gratified when individuals go out and make grass root efforts on our behalf,” said Berkeley County SPCA Executive Director Marcia Atkinson. “We know that philanthropy starts at a young age, and youth have demonstrated, especially in the past several years, that they can be forces within the community for good.”

“It really is encouraging to see students and youth evaluating where they can make a difference in their community, doing the research, and following through with the project or their efforts,” Atkinson added.

Spencer Farina set up a lemonade stand and a bake sale to raise cash for East Cooper Meals on Wheels. Spencer’s mother Allison said that she enjoyed seeing her son support a worthy cause.

“That whole experience was heartwarming,” she said. “What he was doing then brought out the best in everyone that we encountered.”

Allison believes that the experience is one that many youths can learn from.

“You’re training them [young people] to be aware that there are things more important than having them be profitable,” she said. “Other people are needy, and that’s a good way to bring out the best in the people that they encounter and bring out the best in them as children.”

A total of $624.01 was raised for the two charities by all of the contest participants. Christian’s contest win earned him a $100 Visa gift card and a celebration at Sky Zone along with the other participants.

Hermann hopes that the competition can continue to grow in years to come, and she wants to see this year’s contest encourage kids to contribute to charitable organizations.

“We hope that the children think of different ways that they can support (non-profits) in their own way, and just continue to get their foot in the door for fundraising,” she said.

Buckman concurred by issuing a broader statement to all island residents.

“Although the contest is over, this avenue of giving is available all year-round to both children and adults,” she said.

Daniel Island Community Foundation 2018 Charitable Causes

According to the POA website, the Daniel Island Community Foundation was set up as a vehicle for Daniel Island residents and businesses to fund non-profit initiatives. In 2018, a resident advisory committee was established to help in identifying charitable causes and organizations important to Daniel Island residents. Below are the categories and related non-profits the foundation is focusing on this year:

• Human Services: East Cooper Meals on Wheels, East Cooper Community Outreach, Lowcountry Food Bank, Sustainability Institute

• Children: Lowcountry Orphan Relief, Darkness to Light, Dee Norton Child Advocacy Center

• Education: Daniel Island School, Philip Simmons High School, Reading Partners

• Nature/Environment: Berkeley County SPCA, Water Missions International, East Cooper Land Trust

For additional information, click on the “philanthropy” tab at

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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