Carol McCloud was an early childhood educator in the 1990s when she first learned of the concept of “bucket filling” while attending an early childhood conference. The research was presented on the severe lack of cognitive, emotional, and social development in more than 150,000 children who were housed in institutions in Romania from 1974-1989. Because these children suffered extreme deprivation of human love and affection, their little “buckets” were never filled. PET scans showed the effects of this extreme deprivation on their brain development. As she followed this new research, she began to understand more clearly the intense need that all children share to have their buckets filled by caring adults.
In late 2005, while talking to a teacher about the benefits of bucket filling, she began to wonder why no one had yet taught this amazing concept to young children and was inspired to write her first book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? A Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids. That first summer after publication, Carol sold her book out of the back of her vehicle at local farmer’s markets. Many parents, grandparents, and teachers discovered “bucket filling.”
One of her purchasers read the book over the phone to a friend who owned a chain of Hallmark stores in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The owner called Carol and purchased a case of 100 books, which quickly sold out. (Naturally, people who shop at Hallmark stores are bucket fillers because they are thinking of others.) The astounding book sales sparked interest with the Hallmark Retail division. Hallmark advertised the book in their Easter 2007 catalog that was distributed to 200 Hallmark Gold Crown stores around the U.S. As a result, the book sold 10,000 copies, beginning a nation-wide bucketfilling movement.
Before long, educators around the country were calling to schedule school assemblies and staff workshops to help them create their own “bucketfilling school.” In the first fourteen years, a small team of certified teachers gave 3,000 Bucket Fillers presentations in more than 1,200 primary schools around the world, thus creating “bucketfilling schools.” For more than a decade, many schools continue to use bucket filling as their main character development program.
Our Bucket Fillosophy is to help all ages grow in kindness, self-control, resilience and forgiveness, all leading to a happier life. We do this through our publications, presentations, and products, teaching the three rules that lead to greater happiness:
- Be a bucket filler. Be kind.
- Do your best not to dip. Don’t be mean.
- Use your lid. Protect your bucket and the buckets of others.
We are humbled by the incredible following of thousands of teachers, school administrators, counselors, and parents, not to mention the millions of students who are bucket fillers.
We are proud of how far the bucketfilling message has spread! Since 2006, we’ve accomplished some amazing things:
- Our books have sold three million copies worldwide.
- Our books have been translated into ten different languages.
- Our books won 141 awards and thousands of 5-star reviews.
- Have You Filled a Bucket Today? is frequently ranked in the Top 100 books on Amazon and the Top 10 Children’s Bullies Issues and Top 10 Children’s Values books on Amazon.
- We’ve given nearly 3,000 presentations to over 1,300 organizations worldwide, teaching the bucketfilling concept to nearly 500,000 people throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, and China.
Since we began in 2006, we’ve donated a significant portion of each book’s proceeds to non-profit organizations that serve children and families. We wanted to live the truth from our books: When you fill someone else’s bucket, you fill your own. In our first year, we donated $800 in charitable gifts to the local Salvation Army.
By the end of 2018, Bucket Fillers had given over $500,000 in philanthropic donations to charitable organizations worldwide. Over the years, they’ve supported various organizations whose values and missions align with their own: The Salvation Army, Methodist Children’s Home Society, Samaritan’s Purse, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, SOLVE Maternity Homes, and many others.
In 2019, Bucket Fillers created a new Bucket Fillanthropy commitment to donate 50% of all proceeds annually to select non-profit organizations that serve children and families. We have a strong commitment to our communities and want to fill the buckets of others around the world by giving back, not only through our fillanthropy commitment but also through volunteerism and in-kind contributions.