Updated: Nov 5, 2021
5 Teens with a Philanthropic Heart + Passion
As an adult who has been an avid fundraiser and volunteer for many philanthropic causes, I know the feeling derived of helping others in an unconditional way. When I learned of some kind-hearted teenagers who have a 'live to give' mentality, I was not only impressed with their incredible efforts, but also inspired to share their story. These 5 teens have gone above and beyond in their selfless ways to support wonderful causes that help others and I am proud to share their story.
• Age: 15
• Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
• Charity Supported: Leukemia and Lymphoma Society
At the age of 4, Leo was diagnosed with Stage 4 Burkitt's Lymphoma a rare but highly aggressive B-Cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Recognized as a fast growing human tumor, Burkitt's lymphoma is associated with impaired immunity and is rapidly fatal if left untreated. After 10 months and 11 rounds of chemotherapy, Leo was pronounced cancer-free. Rather than leave this behind him as a distant memory, Leo chose a philanthropic path at a young age and vowed to raise money to prevent others from going through what he had to face as a young child.
From an early fundraising lemonade stand endeavor to fundraising in other organizations such as Pablove Across America and the Phoenix Children's Hospital, in which he raised $2500 for his Bar Mitzvah project when he turned 13, Leo forged a philanthropic path for himself and others in his community. His latest fundraising effort is creating a team for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (or LLS) called Team CUREzona. The LLS provides research, education, support, and advocacy for these types of cancer and those afflicted. As the leader of Team CUREzona, which has around 20 members currently, Leo has his own fundraising team page and competes with other student fundraising teams for the role of student-of-the-year with an end goal of raising $50,000 (and more!) to create a new research portfolio and a grant for new research. Truly a win-win for all participants and the cause they are supporting! I asked Leo how he felt about this endeavor and he said,
"I have helped raise a lot of money with the support of my community and OMG it just feels so awesome! It is hard to even put it into words, but it is so exciting to contribute to something that creates new treatments and cures for this type of cancer. I am lucky that I don't suffer any long-lasting effects from my treatment, but not everyone is so fortunate. Many die of this every year or have headaches and other chronic side-effects that they must live with. So just because you don't die doesn't always mean it doesn't affect you. It's so encouraging that one day there can be a treatment or cure that alleviates all of that and cures this type of cancer."
Team CUREzona began in September of 2020 and the competition ends on March 15, 2121. Much of their donations have been through reaching out to his community with an ask via his social media efforts, letters, and calls, but he also has gotten restaurants and businesses to sponsor his team and has gotten a lot of donations for their silent auction at the grand finale. Leo has really enjoyed getting his community involved with events like "Walk for CUREzona" in which participants get sponsored for their own walking (or running) goals each week.
• Age: 13
• Location: Mesa, Arizona
Speaking to Rosevelt Rawls about her charitable heart and passions was incredibly uplifting and heart warming. Equally 'chills-inducing' is listening to Rosevelt sing! Rosevelt has raised over $250,000 for children who are the victims of abuse and sex trafficking.
Using her beautiful voice as a message to reach people and raise awareness, Rosevelt raises funds as a youth ambassador for Childhelp, the international nonprofit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect as well as at-risk children. Childhelp is the largest organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect as well as at-risk children. Former Hollywood actresses Sara O’Meara, CEO and Chairman, and Yvonne Fedderson, President still work every day for this critical cause. In addition to Childhelp, Rawls also raises funds for OUR (Operation Underground Railroad, and organization that 'exists to rescue children from sex trafficking and sexual exploitation'. A strong passion to help all children in need, Rosevelt also donates funds to other child-centered causes.
Rosevelt and her father, Jef Rawls, created a yearly music event called The Music and the Message that raises funds for these 2 organizations. Not only does Rosevelt sing at these events, but there are celebrities that join the event as well. Her voice is simply angelic and a true gift to this world and her warm, caring heart makes her the perfect spokesperson for such worthy causes. After seeing the popularity of these events, they made a weekly show on their YouTube Channel Rosevelt Sings called The Music and the Message Show.
A creative soul, Rosevelt created the acronym CHILD to help spread the word on how others can help children in need.
• C: Choose to Care
• H: How Can I help
• I: I'm an Individual (and I Can Make Difference!)
• L: Learn to Love
• D: Decide to Do
I asked Rosevelt why she chose to help raise funds for children in need and she stated:
“The thing that got me started was that I have 5 brothers and I learned that 5 kids die every day of child abuse and neglect. This hurt my heart. Thinking that this goes on in the world was so sad to me. I want to use my voice to give a message that it is not ok and that we need to stand up for what is right."
She went on to explain a challenge that she created called #5TooMany. Every 10 seconds child abuse is reported in the United States and 5 kids die every day because of abuse or neglect. That's #5TooMany! The challenge a 5-step process:
1. Draw a heart or put a heart sticker on your hand place your hand in the stop position
2. Take a picture of this and post it on social media
3. Tag 5 friends and also
5. Donate a minimum of $5
Celebrities have gotten involved with the #5TooMany and if you click on the #5 Too Many website, you will not only view many of these celebrities that have joined Rosevelt in support of this valuable cause, but you will also be treated to a true celebrity in her own right- Rosevelt Rawls- singing her heart out in support of others whose voices yearn and deserve to be heard. She is a true gift to this world on so many levels and I am honored to share her story and passion.
Savannah and Sophie Melton
• Age: Savannah, 14 and Sophie, 11
• Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
• Charity Supported: Childhelp
Equally passionate about helping abused children, Savannah and Sophie Melton are two bubbly, warm teens that go above and beyond fundraising for Childhelp. Savannah and Sophie's mother, Julie Melton, was the impetus for their charitable endeavors and began donating valuable time to this worthy cause with Savannah when Savannah was only 5 years old. When Sophie got a bit older, she joined in on the mother/daughter team and they all became more involved and even created the Teen Advisory Board (TAB) for Childhelp. Whereas Savannah is a part of Childhelp Wings (TAB), a Valley-based division of this national nonprofit dedicated to the prevention and treatment of child abuse, Sophie is a member of the Caterpillar group, in which the next step is for her to 'spread her wings' and become a part of Childhelp Wings. The above group photo is the TAB and Caterpillars combined as they wrapped holiday gifts for abused children.
Asked what she likes most about being a part of this organization, Savannah states:
"We learned all about what child abuse really is and want to make a difference in our community. Some kids are not as fortunate to have the lifestyle many of us were born into, and we want to help them. Child abuse is something a lot of people don't speak of. We learned that a child dies every 5 minutes of child abuse and a report of child abuse is made every 10 seconds in our country! We want to bring awareness to this problem because of the large amount of numbers and we want to help alleviate the fear and see an end to child abuse."
Some of the things the girls do to help out with Childhelp are: making goody bags, gift bags, craft bags, notes for encouragement, and also fundraise for the charity. They also have a fashion show to raise money, but this year it will be virtual. Spreading awareness around the Valley is a big focus to get the topic 'no one wants to talk about' out in the open. Sophie states:
“It feels really good to help these children. It is so sad that they are our own age and abused. Helping kids less fortunate than you are is something that we really like to do."
• Age: 14
• Location: Scottsdale Arizona
• Charities Supported: The Hope Packed Project
Skylar moved to Scottsdale last spring, and as a way to get involved in her community, she became a part of the Hope Packed Project (HPP), a valley nonprofit that is “packing hope, one project at a time.” The project brings kids hope and joy in the form of goodie-filled Hope Tote Packs – including items chosen to fit a child’s unique interests and hobbies. 'HOPEster' kids are U.S. children or teens chosen monthly who are facing adversity – whether environmental, familial, physical/health, or mental.
A local Scottsdale family- Aaron, Jill, Levi, and Asher Cooper- founded the Hope Packed Project. When young Levi asked his mom about a homeless man he saw holding a sign asking for help, Levi insisted on packing him a lunch. This became a monthly ritual for the family. This 'grass roots kindness movement' created a chain reaction, as others wanted to get involved and help others, too. Seeing the need to support children and teens that were facing various type of adversity, the Hope Packed Project expanded from their lunch- packing to create ‘Hope Totes’ for kids in need of a lift. The mission of HPP is to 'recognize these HOPEsters and celebrate them with the gift of a Hope Tote to lift their spirits, while also showering them with accolades for their extraordinary courage, strength and optimistic attitude.'
Skylar's role in the Hope Packed Project initially began by helping the organization create a new (and fabulous!) website. She now also leads their teen team and helps organize their calendar of events. The teen team works hard to not only grow their team, but to also create awareness about this supportive, non-profit organization. One of the upcoming events is a group hike in which participants will hike together and do various other activities afterward while raising well-needed funds for HPP.
One HOPEster is chosen per month and this child or teen is selected because of some adversity he/she is facing. 'Hope Helpers' put together Hope Totes, which are filled with various fun items, and then the helper adds a more personalized gift that aligns with the HOPEster's wants, needs, and hobbies. Skylar explained that recently one of the HOPEsters needed a home computer for her schoolwork, so the Hope Helper assigned to her gifted her this well-needed computer.
I asked Skylar how this charitable work she is doing has impacted her life and Sklyar said:
“Helping out in the community gives me a sense of purpose and fulfillment. I look back at everything I have done and think about how inspiring it is to help others. Being new to Scottsdale, this has given me a way to get to know other teens and watch this project grow. It is a heartwarming feeling to see how much it has grown and helped others."
I was so inspired to interview each of these special teens providing such a valuable service to their communities. They each possess an enthusiasm only one can know when 'looking outside of one's own bubble' and helping others in need. They are each a true inspiration for us all, and their families, too, for supporting their dream of helping others.
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