I'm a big fan of Letters of Note, a blog that collects interesting correspondence from throughout history. Today, the blog focuses on a great letter Andy Smith, a seventh-grader, sent to President Reagan in 1984.
"Today my mother declared my bedroom a disaster area," Smith wrote. "I would like to request federal funds to hire a crew to clean up my room."
Reagan responded first by informing young Andy that any formal request for assistance must come from the authority who declared the disaster -- in this case, his mother. And even setting that aside, the president stuck to his limited government guns in assessing the request. From his response:
May I make a suggestion? This administration, believing that government has done many things that could better be done by volunteers at the local level, has sponsored a Private Sector Initiative program, calling upon people to practice voluntarism in the solving of a number of local problems.
Your situation appears to be a natural. I'm sure your mother was fully justified in proclaiming your room a disaster. Therefore you are in an excellent position to launch another volunteer program to go along with the more than 3,000 already underway in our nation—congratulations.