Money doesn't grow on trees. But it does grow in your mouth, as every kid knows. Leave a little something under your pillow for the tooth fairy, get a little something back. It's the first money most kids earn.

It's also the first money lesson most kids learn. The Tooth Fairy Project aims to encourage kids to give a little something back to the community by using what they get from the tooth fairy to help those in need.

We want to raise $20,000 to support The Hospitality HUB in Memphis, a program that helps homeless people get back on their feet by providing many of the things they need to find a job: a safe place to keep their belongings, a mailing address, and access to computers and telephones. The Hospitality HUB helps those who are ready to help themselves.

We are asking that kids give $1 per tooth, and even little ones who haven't yet had a visit from the tooth fairy can contribute. Don't worry if it's been years since the tooth fairy paid you a visit: Grownups can chip in too. The average adult has 32 teeth, and we would love it if parents, grandparents, and other adults gave $32 each. If just 625 people give $32 each we'll get to our goal of $20,000!

We hope that most of the support comes from kids, though, because the Tooth Fairy Project was a kid's idea! Every morning on the way to school, Carina Washington and her son, Henning, see the same man on the side of the road, asking for food. Carina sometimes gets breakfast ready to take to him, but the hectic morning rush means that the food is usually left behind in her kitchen. One day, she was so frustrated with herself she shouted, "I can't BELIEVE I forgot that breakfast again!" Henning said, "Don't worry, Mom. I bet when he goes home he can make breakfast for himself."

Carina realized that her six-year-old boy thought every person was just like himself, with a safe, warm house and a Mom who bakes muffins in the morning. Carina explained to Henning that the man they see doesn't have a home and will probably not have breakfast on most days. Henning was speechless, but unbowed. He thought for a bit and pronounced, "I want to get $20,000 and buy food for people who don't have any." Carina asked how he would raise the money. Henning answered, "I can give the money I've gotten from the Tooth Fairy. That will help, right?"

Thus, The Tooth Fairy Project was born. If a child is willing to give his first few hard-earned dollars to help someone in need, we should follow his example.

It's an act of grace that puts the Tooth Fairy money under the pillow. Time to share a bit of our good fortune.

an outreach of Shady Grove Presbyterian Church • 5530 Shady Grove Rd., Memphis, TN 38120 • phone: 901-683-7329 •