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Small gifts snowball into big change for area children

Young girl with bike helmet
Through small, consistent gifts, Rose Marie Schreier has made a big difference for local kids, who she says deserve to have carefree childhoods riding bikes.

Philanthropy isn't just the domain of the wealthy. In fact, small amounts can yield big returns, especially when donating to an endowment fund like the Millennium Fund for Children.

Akron resident Rose Marie Schreier has given modestly, but what makes her donations impactful is her diligence: She's given every year since the fund's inception in 1999.

"I don't give a whole lot," she said. "I can't afford a lot, but at the end of every year I have given something. What little amount I give, I hope it helps."

Schreier, 84, read a newspaper article about the establishment of the Millennium Fund in 1999, prompting her initial donation. What appealed to her most was its mission of improving the lives of area children.

"I think a childhood should be a happy time and a carefree time," she said. "I'm just all for children. I just want them to have happy childhoods."

Area children are raised in a completely different environment than previous generations, she said:

"What's going on in the world today is the fact that children can't be safe someplace and ride a bike and play tag and do all those things that children should be doing."

After her husband passed away, Schreier renewed her focus on good deeds, seeking work at
Mature Services and the United Way, along with staying involved in the community.

"My husband passed away 31 years ago, so I have really been busy all those years," she said. "I worked for quite a number of years, and I like to work in the yard. I try to stay as active as I can."

While her donations are often in the single digits, Schreier's contributions are among the many that helped the Millennium Fund reach a new milestone this year when the fund surpassed $1 million in assets.

Her gifts, combined with thousands of others, have enabled the fund to award more than $700,000 in grants to programs that change the lives of children throughout Greater Akron.

Past grants have given toys to kids in foster care, introduced students to live music and theater performances, provided food and clothing to at-risk youth, and much more.

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