R.J. Gallagher Jr.: A little change goes a long way | AspenTimes.com

R.J. Gallagher Jr.: A little change goes a long way

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” — Barack Obama

Green Bay Packers 35, Kansas City Chiefs 10. Most valuable player was Bart Starr. The date was Jan. 15, 1967. A Sunday. Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, California. First-ever American Football League versus National Football League world championship game. Sixty million viewers watched the event, which later became known as the Super Bowl. And the rest is history.

I remember that day very well. I was 11 years old and reveling in being a “Boulder Boy.” I went to my brother-in-law’s Super Bowl party. About 15 folks were there. It was a party where a football game happened to break out. I could tell that this was an event that was going to be something special because it was bigger than just the game, and America has always loved a good party.

And here’s what I remember since all those years have passed. I got to take home a very special piece of memorabilia from that happening. A 1-gallon Gilbey’s bottle of London Distilled Dry Gin. It’s huge. It was empty. That bottle has now gone everywhere with me ever since. It’s become my daily change collector. It lives in the laundry room on the floor. If there is change left in pockets to be laundered, you have volunteered to increase the bounty of Gilbey’s. Change only. No bills. I have no idea where any volunteered bills go. Or maybe I do.

Every once in a while, my family places bets on how much change has been collected by eyeing the contents in the bottle. Since each member of the family has “volunteered” some amount of treasure to the cause, each member has always had the chance to reap the rewards at the counting through a contest of chance, for change. We did that again this past week. But this year, we added a special twist. Each member of the family made their best guess on a piece of paper and included their chosen nonprofit, which would be awarded the amount if their guess was the closest to the actual amount.

The guesses were done in secret and were not to be opened until we had the actual amount counted by a clerk at Alpine Bank. The clerk was told to write down the amount on a piece of paper and not let us see it.

So here are the guesses and the nonprofits chosen by each family member: Nancy, $138.73, Shining Stars; Reilly, $223.44, Shining Stars; Bo, $69.46, Aspen Cares; and RJG, $144.44, Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. The total amount in change as calculated by the bank turned out to be a whopping $133.15. Nancy was only $5.58 off and brought home the prize. But the real winner is a fantastic nonprofit making a huge difference in our world, Shining Stars.

None of us could remember how long it had been since we last emptied the Gilbey’s change bottle. We are guessing it has been a couple of years. But all of us agreed that this is now a tradition for our family. I’m challenging all families to start a similar tradition and play along. Every penny adds up. Think change for change.

R.J. Gallagher Jr. is a three-decade resident of the Roaring Fork Valley community. He serves on numerous nonprofit boards including the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club, Aspen Community Foundation and Komen Aspen. His firm, Forte International, is a supporter of local philanthropy that makes a difference on a global level. “Philantopia,” runs periodically in The Aspen Times and focuses on philanthropy and community involvement. R.J.’s always open for ideas. You can reach out to him at rjg@forteinternational.net.

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