HANNIBAL | Staff and faculty members at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum enjoy every chance to preserve and share history with visitors of all ages, and a new “#GivingTwain” program that started on Giving Tuesday is designed to bring in more students for field trips to experience Mark Twain's legacy.
Melissa Cummins, director of marketing and community relations with the Mark Twain Home Foundation, said several board members are on fundraising subcommittees and were looking for a way to dedicate those funds in a way that helped the community. Board members discovered that many schools have faced budget shortfalls, and extracurricular activities like field trips are often cut as a result. The museum has seen a small decline in school-led field trips, and a new #GivingTwain fundraising and social media program is geared toward bringing more youth to experience Mark Twain's contributions and what life was like during his time.
“We wanted to help schools, plus in the process, keep our mission alive — which is to promote the awareness of Mark Twain,” Cummins said. “We wanted to tie those two in together, and we thought what a perfect way to do so with creating #GivingTwain.
Cummins said all of the money raised from the #GivingTwain program will offset costs for area schools to bring their students to the museum to study Mark Twain and his literature. Several people have already supported the effort, and donors can give gifts in any amount, including $6 to sponsor one student and $120 to sponsor a classroom of 20 students. The field trips provide historical context and knowledge to members of future generations.
“It's a way of giving back, in a sense,” Cummins said. “So many people love Mark Twain — it's one of those things — every boy should have the opportunity to whitewash a fence. By coming to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, children have that opportunity, to not only experience Twain's writing, but also to learn about what life was like in the mid-1800s — what was school like, what were the lives of children like based on if they were homeless or if they were poor or if they were wealthy — you can discover all of those things in our properties.”
Cummins said that #GivingTwain will extend past Giving Tuesday and the holidays, and a social media aspect involves donors sharing an “#UNselfie” featuring a blank template where they can write why they chose to support the program. Next, the donor can share their post on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter with hashtags like #GivingTwain, #GivingTuesday and #UNSelfie and use the tag @marktwainmuseum to help encourage friends and loved ones to join the cause.
Gail Bryant, executive director of the Hannibal Convention and Visitors Bureau, agreed that the initiative would be a great way to preserve Mark Twain's history for the future.
“I believe any monetary donation — on Giving Tuesday or any day — to the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum is a wonderful gift to keep Mark Twain's legacy alive,” Bryant said.
More information about the #GivingTwain program is available by visiting www.marktwainmuseum.org/donations/givingtwain/ or searching for Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum on Facebook.