The Children's Institute Blog

Donor Profile -- Wunderkind Fundraiser Jacob Haugh

Posted: Nov 15, 2017 by The Children's Institute

Three years ago, when Jacob Haugh turned nine, he chose to stop receiving birthday gifts.

Instead, he said, he wanted people to donate the money they were going to spend on him to Pirate’s Charities and The Children’s Institute. Since then, he has raised nearly $25,000 for both organizations through Wins For Kids.

To Jacob, who will be honored today as the 2017 National Philanthropy Day’s Outstanding Youth Award winner, “it just kind of felt normal” to give back.

“I feel like I have everything I need and I just kind of thought, ‘Let’s do something for someone else,’” said Jacob, now 11, of Edinboro in Erie County, Pa. “I sometimes think of what I could get but I realize the money’s helping other people.”

He had some help along the way. In addition to support from his parents, he’s enlisted family, friends –even staff at James W. Parker Middle School, where he’s a sixth-grader.

“Our community has been buzzing about Jacob for several years,” said Jason Buto, the principal at Jacob’s middle school. “So, when he came here as a fifth-grader last year, I was aware of who he was and what he did.”

Last year, Jacob hosted a faculty breakfast at the school as a fundraiser. This year, Mr. Buto told him it was time to step up his game.

Jacob organized A Wins For Kids World Series, where the fifth- and sixth-grade homeroom classes would compete in a fund-raiser to see who would play the teachers in a wiffle-ball championship. (The final World Series game was held Nov. 10; the teachers won, 4-3. The fundraiser brought in $827.02.)

“We don’t have many kids that we can put this kind of responsibility on their shoulders,” Mr. Buto said. “Jacob, in my career, is the only kid I’ve seen who can do this. He is the quarterback on this.”

The story takes on another element because Jacob has autism and, in his own words, doesn’t want his mind to overpower his heart.

“Jacob has his own challenges. Having those challenges and being able to do what he does is an amazing thing,” Mr. Buto said. “It’s an example to other kids – it helps them see they can do great things.”

Jacob enrolled his uncle, who helps coach the California University of Pennsylvania men’s ice-hockey team and got them to sponsor a fundraiser when they played Robert Morris University.

And he enrolled his parents, Chad and Megan, who have been tasked with helping manage the money-collection activities of this fund-raising superstar.

“We’re pretty proud parents and we think it’s awesome,” Megan said. “All you could ask for is for your children to make a difference in the world. He’s setting a heck of an example for his little sister.”

For a pre-teen who exchanges e-mails with the head coach of the Pittsburgh Pirates – Clint Hurdle even brought Jacob down to spring training in Bradenton, Fla. earlier this year – Jacob is pretty modest.

“The reason I’m donating? I want to make an impact on the community, like Mr. Hurdle,” Jacob said. “It’s important for me to show other kids they can make a difference, too.”

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