“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them.” – Lady Bird Johnson
I have a rule: I never, ever pass a lemonade stand if I’m walking by. I will slurp down (or at least sip) any offering of sweet or salty (it’s happened) lemonade sold by an enterprising child. I like to support them, I like to let them feel seen, their efforts important.
I recently supported a different sort of lemonade stand. Except there was no lemonade. Or a stand. A little girl where I live organizes a lemonade stand each June to raise money for a local food pantry. This year, because of the social distancing that comes with controlling the spread of COVID-19, the little girl, with the help of her mother, organized a food drive for the local pantry instead. You signed up and put out a bag of food at your front door which they would pick up.
It was all her idea. It was her heart that motivated the stand, the cause, the reason for doing. I was impressed, but not surprised. I’m never surprised at the heart and will of a child. I’ve joined in body and spirit with the recent peaceful protests for humanity and equality and against brutality and inequality, A big reason I protest is to honor the people that have come before me, but I also protest for those who have come after me and are here, as well as those who are not yet here.
In the spirit of the little girl with the big heart, who wanted to help people in the best way she knew how, I’m sharing a few other child-centric stories and organizations that are making change.
Jahkil and Project I Am. Kids are like sponges and Jahkil is no exception. Once upon a time, he helped a relative distribute food to a population of homeless in Chicago; 8-year-old Jahkil was left wanting to do more. And so he got to work. Jahkil spearheaded and executed an initiative to put together “Blessing Bags,” filled with hygiene essentials along with bottled water and granola bars. Jahkil continues to raise awareness and encourage children across the country to make change in their own communities.
Levi and Levi’s Clean Up Crew. What do you do when you love wildlife, see a mess and want to keep it clean? You follow 5-year-old Levi’s lead and clean it up! Doing what he can, where he can and in this case, one a day a week this summer at a designated time, Levi meets his crew and they set out to clean up local spots with an abundance of trash and litter. Levi is based in CT, but his efforts transcend; we can all start where we are.
Ella and Help Me Color a Rainbow. A few years ago, little Ella was a patient at the aptly named Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. Perhaps inspired by the name, Ella wanted to color a rainbow, but was dismayed to find out there was a shortage of crayons in the hospital and those that there were had seen better days. Ella was determined to collect and donate crayons in the hopes that all patients could have their own box. And she did. To date, she has donated over 13k boxes and has set her sights on doing the same nationally at every children’s hospital (including St.Jude’s).
Mari aka Little Miss Flint. The Flint water crisis (should have) horrified us all, but Mari Copeny was not only horrified but also motivated to do something about it. At just 8-years-old, she sprung into action to fight for the children of Flint’s right to fresh, clean water. She wrote a letter to President Obama and not only received a response from his team over the phone, but a visit from the then President himself. When the state stopped paying for bottled water for residents, Mari spearheaded a fundraising initiative that raised $280,000 and the ability to distribute over a million bottles of water locally. Plastic waste was the next concern for Mari and she has since redirected her mission to bring fresh, clean water to those with toxic supplies, by working with a socially responsible water filtration company.
Ryan and Ryan’s Recycling. Little Ryan was only 3-years-old when he went with his father to his local redemption center and traded in some cans and bottles for some cash. He has been hooked on recycling ever since. In an effort to keep these items out of the oceans that neighbor where he lives in Orange County, CA. He started collecting from family, friends and neighbors and his efforts have grown. Ryan also regularly uses his voice to speak up for the role we can all play in keeping our planet clean.
Are there any more little kids doing big things that we should know about here? Please share!