It all started with a poem and a $5 bill. Now, that small gift has grown into a children’s book, titled “The Giving Crusade.” The message is clear: a small gift of kindness through money or time can go a long way. 

Released in late August, “The Giving Crusade,” the debut book from Efland author Kate Pope, is a “little book with a big mission.”

From gift to mission

What would you do if you were gifted $5? 

What would your 7-year-old self have done with $5?

This is the question that Pope posed to her niece, Annie, but with a catch – she could spend the $5 anyway she wanted, just not on herself. Pope inspired her to think about what five dollars could do if she spent it in a way she would likely never see again and in a way that could make a difference in someone else’s life.

This idea was simple and came to Pope as she awoke from a dream just two days before her Annie’s 7th birthday. 

She had been struggling to think of a present idea. 

“Sometimes, as a non-parent, it’s really hard to know what the ‘cool’ thing is,” Pope laughed. “Without having children of my own, I want to leave an impact on my nieces and nephews.”

As a lifelong writer, when she awoke from her dream, she rolled over, grabbed her phone, and “furiously” typed up the entire poem.

“I maybe edited it once and then sent it out to her,” Pope recalled. “It was definitely a very divine moment for me.”

Her sister, Allison Donovan, and Annie read the poem and discussed it. 

“My sister called me back and said, ‘Okay this can’t stop here, let’s do something with this,’” Pope said. 

A few emails and phone calls later, they found Warren Publishing in Charlotte. After meeting with the editor Mindy Kuhn, they were encouraged by her enthusiasm and felt she truly understood their vision and mission. Within weeks, they were under contact for publication. 

“Now, I’ve been told that when something is meant to be and is worth doing, then everything simply falls into place,” Pope writes on the book’s website. “The publication of this book is undeniably one of those moments.”

The book and the LLC

The title of the book was created just as easily, too. Pope knew she wanted the title to be a call to action, a powerful statement. “The Giving Crusade” was born and was about “cape crusaders” who work to do good in their community. 

They teamed up with illustrator Barbara Szepesi Szucs through Astound Agency to create a superhero that all children could relate to. 

“While she (the hero) – I call her a ‘she’ because she favors my niece – she’s actually drawn in such a way that it’s kind of ambiguous,” Pope said. “Our goal is that any child reading it could identify with the character.” 

Pope hopes that the book will reach children of all gender, race, culture, economic status, and empower them to be able to experience what it feels like to be generous. The book encourages the initial gift of $5 along with the book, but Pope hopes children and parents alike understand that giving doesn’t have to be centered on financial giving, it can be through volunteer work – “using your time and your love.” 

Pope’s niece initially chose to give her $5 to her church, because “she knew they had an ability to use that little amount to make a big difference,” Pope said. 

Since, she has asked to continue the work and has started creating care packages or “giving bags” to give to those who are homeless in Greensboro. 

Pope calls the mission of this book an “ongoing conversation.” 

Once Pope had signed a contract for publication, the sister duo decided to keep the idea alive and growing, establishing The Giving Crusade, LLC. 

Through this company, each Tuesday the pair features a new nonprofit than can benefit from financial giving and volunteers. A portion of book proceeds will go to each nonprofit during their featured week as their way to stay true to their mission and giving back. 

Pope also intends to write more children’s books in the same vein, to encourage readers to be socially conscious and to ignite a bit of kindness and generosity in young people so they may “create a better, kinder world,” Pope said. 

“I have said, somewhere unfortunately in writing, that I would write a book for every niece and nephew, but my siblings keep having children,” Pope laughed. “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to fulfill that, but I’m going to try.” 

“The Giving Crusade” is available for purchase on their website at www.thegivingcrusade.com and available in three retail locations: SOUTH Unlimited, LLC in Meadowmont in Chapel Hill, Radiance Yoga in Greensboro, and Polliwogs Children’s Boutique in Greensboro. With close to 300 copies sold, they hope to be in Hillsborough store’s soon. 

Kate, an event and wedding photographer by trader, lives with her husband, Andy, and their dog, Macon, in Efland. 

Find “The Giving Crusade” online by visiting https://thegivingcrusade.com or visit them on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.