By Karen Billing
Ten-year-old Carmel Valley resident recently held her own fundraiser for Africa, selling 300 rubber bracelets. The fourth-grader at the San Diego Jewish Academy took about two months to sell $2 multi-colored bracelets printed with “I Helped Africa” with all the proceeds going to the World Vision Organization.
With the $600 she earned being worth more in Africa, her bracelet sales led to the purchase of two soccer balls, two chickens, water and sanitation, art and music instruction, education for a child, $550 worth of school supplies, goats, bed nets to prevent malaria, $385 worth of medicines and seeds. Donations also went toward the Clean Water fund and a shelter and clothing fund.
Michelle became interested in helping Africa after she saw a picture online of an African child.
“You could see his ribs and he was screaming and it said that he was an orphan. His mom passed away and his dad left because it was too hard to raise him,” Michelle said. “When his brother went to get water, he would be left all alone.”
Her heart touched, she researched projects other people were doing to help Africa and became inspired to do something herself. So for her 10th birthday, when her parents asked what she wanted for her gift, she told them she wanted to help Africa.
Her parents purchased the rubber bracelets she designed which she then sold to schoolmates, neighbors and friends.
“Our family is all very proud of Michelle, that at her age, she is thinking of helping the world,” her mother Rebecca said. “I think she can make a difference in the world.”
Michelle already has her sights set on her next project. She wants to help the victims of the Midwest tornados and after watching shows like “Whale Wars” and the documentary “The Cove,” she also wants to help whales and dolphins.
She is looking at selling fun-shaped adhesive note pads to support her causes.
Michelle has been inspired in her service work by her school, the San Diego Jewish Academy. One of SDJA’s missions is “Tikkun Olam,” which means “repairing the world” — students are taught that they have a responsibility to help make the world a better place.
“They tell us if we see someone that needs help, we should give them a little TLC,” said Michelle, smiling as she spelled out that TLC stands for tender loving care.
“Whenever I see something that has happened, I think of something that I can do to help.”