Grants For Young Leaders

Great leaders and thinkers have long extolled the virtues of giving, and of children’s particular knack for extending their hearts toward a cause. In December 2020, Our 2 Cents challenged kiddos in the Fairbanks area to dream up ways to materialize their compassion—and the results were astonishing in their specificity and range! Read on to meet some youngsters who are advancing some truly impressive community goals—our hope is they inspire you and yours to find ways you can also participate, however you can!

Dr. Seuss wrote, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Ryder McGee, age 10, is aware of the severe impact the pandemic has had on many organizations’ ability to function. He knows the Seward Sea Life Center struggled to stay open and to afford to care for its rescued animals. That’s why he chose to raise money for the center, which is one of his very favorite places! Ryder has goals to help the environment, namely the oceans—and he envisions a world of clean beaches, in which turtles can safely lay their eggs. It’s clear Ryder understands that the oceans are in peril and cares deeply about turning the tide, and in helping important operations like the Sea Life Center in their quest to reach the public in regard to our world’s precious ocean wildlife.

In December 2020, Ryder sent a $1200 check to The Alaska Sealife center!

In the words of young John Frykman, age 5: “People need drawings and art. Bring art to them.” A sweet and simple assertion, yet profoundly accurate and important. What is life without art—what is existence, without the ability to express ourselves through form and color and our personal style and aesthetic? This kid knows—life would not be nearly lively enough! John shopped for a plethora of arts and crafts supplies to assemble into kits for families and children, just in time for Christmas. “Every child is an artist,” said Pable Picasso. And said William Shakespeare: “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” No doubt two of humanity’s greatest artists would have approved of John’s philosophy and giving attitude.

John delivered over $1000 of high quality art supplies to children and families in Fairbanks, AK!

“Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them,” said Lady Bird Johnson. It would seem that Iris Wilson and Kiki Beardsley, both 12, have folks in their lives who believe in them, given the way they have risen to the occasion in service of others. This inspiring duo chose to focus on contributions for homeless youth, researching how many teens are housed at The Door—the Interior’s sole youth shelter—and creating gift bags for each. The thoughtful collection of items included quality headphones, gift cards, cocoa, journals, and personal care items—both utilitarian and uplifting, and sure to provide encouragement to kids who need it. Other humanitarian goals Iris and Kiki share are to address intolerance around the world, promote awareness of how to protect the ozone layer, and to champion access to sustainable energy. What terrific advocates for a better world!

Kiki and Iris were so happy to have their project funded in time for Christmas, they had almost $1700 to shop for these wonderful gifts!

“I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the way of a whole human being,” said Abraham Lincoln. Well, Marlee Severns, age 9, has a heart for animals’ rights to health and well-being, and certainly knows that humans have the power to positively impact the lives of other living things. This kiddo’s passion for animals drove her to donate to not just one, but two resources for animal care—the Fairbanks Animal Shelter Fund, and Bird TLC in Anchorage. Marlee’s biggest goal is to help conserve Alaskan wildlife, and she implores us to imagine a world without animals. Her goal for this grant is to benefit those agencies equipped to care for critically sick and injured animals. With the monetary gifts she made toward this cause, Marlee is on her way to making a real difference for critters in need of medical treatment and rehabilitation.

Marlee sent a check for $750 to each charity she chose, for a total of $1500! She wrote beautiful notes to accompany her donations!

A good understanding of mental health care can make communities function more compassionately. Tucker Hansen, age 8, knows the difference that sensory activities can make, expressing how “coping kits” have helped him achieve calm while feeling anxious. Wanting other kids to have access to this valuable resource for emotional regulation, he put together several coping kits to distribute with the help of the Fairbanks Children’s Museum. Each included fidget spinners, silly putty, squishy slime, and other fun items designed to reduce stress and promote relaxed play. Lois Lowry said, “Kids deserve the right to think that they can change the world.” According to Tucker, they also deserve to know that they are not alone when they are frustrated, sad, angry, scared, or anxious—that there are those who can relate, and have helpful experience to share!

Tucker put together 100 kits worth $5088 (Enchanted Forest Toys matched his budget of $2500!) that were strategically delivered to children in Fairbanks!

“The soul is healed by being with children,” wrote Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and most parents can attest. However, parenting is not always easy. Motherhood can definitely be a struggle, especially if you are short on resources—but Ellie Hull, age 8, hopes all moms will feel supported and encouraged. With her efforts, there are surely mothers who will feel just that. Ellie’s heart is with new moms in need. She wanted to make sure to provide plenty of baby essentials to Care Net, including diapers, diaper cream, bottles, formula, nursing pads, care products, first aid kits, and car seats—you name it, Ellie shopped for it. She also insisted that “AT LEAST 10,000 pairs” of sleeper pajamas be purchased to keep newborns cozy! Ellie’s gift certainly warms and even heals the soul.

Ellie shopped for $1520.17 worth of baby clothing and supplies!

Karl Whaley, age 9, understands what quality resources can do for those in hard times, as well as for those who provide the help. He sought to make donations to the Fairbanks Rescue Mission and the Interior Center for Non-Violent Living—he helped select important winter gear items such as socks, gloves, coats and snow pants for residents in need. Not only that, but he made sure each facility received a boost in food security, by way of a $250 grocery card so that each kitchen could purchase needed ingredients. Karl’s wish to put an end to racism, to help house the houseless, and to ensure that everyone experiences peace is something we should ALL get behind! For as Mahatma Gandhi put it, “If we are to teach real peace in this world…we shall have to begin with the children.”

In total, Karl delivered $1695.97 worth of warm weather gear and grocery money!

Kailee, Thomas, and Audriana Willey, ages 7, 7, and 4, are three siblings who dream of taking in all the children in need of safety and support. But since no home is quite big enough for such an openhearted wish, they’ve opted to set about curating special items to comfort their peers who are in foster care, such as stuffed animals, night lights, and journals—these kids know the sense of home and security that such personal treasures can instill. All kids need fun, protection, and love according to the Willeys, and they’re right. Changing the world through love is their goal. “Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me,” said Fred Rogers. These youngsters are heroes for remembering the little things that matter to their fellow children, and for making an effort to provide them.

The Willey kids shopped for and delivered $3,277 of new with tags on, adorable, incredibly cuddly stuffed toys to The Alaska Center for Resource Families! Alyeska Pipeline Service Company sponsored this project with a $1000 gift!

Helen Keller said, “The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” Roslynn Butcher, age 11, comes from a family of volunteers, and it shows in her empathetic language and understanding of community, and the joy with which she shares her volunteering experience. She speaks of wanting to let children in the hospital feel extra loved and supported, and her cozy, tactile tie-blankets are a perfect way to manifest that care and to put her crafting skills to the greater good. She knows that hospital stays can be scary and uncomfortable, and that the knowledge of a loving community can boost a patient’s spirits—as well as inspire young patients to give back, once they’re feeling better, of course! Roslynn is a wonderful role model for youth who are searching for ways to be involved.

Roslynn is currently hard at work sewing and crafting pillowcases and blankets! We took her shopping at That Old Sew and Sew and Joanne’s fabrics for over $1000 of fabric! Her project was overfunded and she will have $750 more to spend – she would like to shop for books and comfort items to accompany the blanket sets she is making.

And there you have it! Keep an eye on Our 2 Cents for future opportunities to give back, and a GIANT thank you to all our applicants—your stories are the sweetest, and this world wouldn’t be the same without you.

Thank you to Usibelli Coal mine for kicking off this project with an incredibly generous $5000 match! We have one last Young Leaders grant to announce and work to fund, but in total our community and generous donors have delivered $18,741 since this program launched in December!

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