There is an old adage about a child will lead them.
Multiply that by 10 and we have Kids Care Disaster Relief, the brainchild of a 13-year-old attending the Canterbury School in Fort Myers, who watched the news of Oct. 10 in horror and emerged with a mission.
To assist those impacted by the storm.
Even though that storm was an eight-hour drive away, Kristina Podlasek felt she had to help and enlisted a few of her classmates at Canterbury School, the kids ranging in age from 10 to 13.
And over the past weekend, seven of those youngsters piled into a camper with a couple of parents to make the drive to Mexico Beach and on Sunday morning visited Mayor Al Cathey.
They arrived carrying a check for more than $9,300 and a group embrace with the mayor.
“That was one of the most touching things I’ve experienced,” Cathey said. “I was overwhelmed by their generosity and that they took the time to organize and dedicate themselves to this.
“They were very well-spoken, just delightful. They were so energetic and so happy to give us this money.”
Money raised by selling rubber bracelets, emblazoned with “Hurricane Michael: October 10, 2018” and on the inside with the coordinates of the storm.
The price is $5, but the group accepts, and has received, all levels of donations.
Roughly a month ago, Cathey received a call from Kristina’s father, Brian, letting Cathey know about the campaign to assist Mexico Beach.
Kristina and friends, having lived through Hurricane Irma last year, were well-acquainted with hurricanes and the damage they leave behind.
“Irma wasn’t nearly as powerful as Hurricane Michael,” Kristina said. “I can not even imagine how terrifying it must have been.”
The kids came up with the bracelets and design, filed, with help from caring adults, the paperwork for their 501(c) 3 status, and began to sell their bracelets.
They also solicited sponsors to assist in defraying expenses such as purchasing the bracelets, stamps, envelopes, postage and other supplies.
“We thought it was a great way for them to learn to help something or someone beyond themselves,” said Brian Podlasek. “It seemed like a great educational opportunity.”
And after first reaching out to Cathey, Brian touched base again two weeks later to let him know of progress and again last week, telling Cathey they were on their way with check.
As of the middle of last week, that check totaled just over $8,000; by the time they arrived in Mexico Beach it had climbed in value to over $9,300.
The kids also brought along a supply of bracelets which were handed out during the annual tree lighting Sunday night.
And those youngsters are not finished.
Their fundraising project continues and they have added aiding the victims of the California wildfires as a second project.
“For any other hurricanes or natural disasters we will make bracelets and raise money for those issues as well,” Katrina said. “I can’t wait for more people and kids to help and join the mission.
“I believe that all children can make a big difference from something so simple.”
You can visit www.kidscaredisasterrelief.com online or visit their page on Facebook.
One hundred percent of all proceeds to hurricane victims.
“I understand the impact and devastation a massive storm like Hurricane Michael can have on people,” said Kat Sanders, another of the group. “I want to help the people that were hit so hard by this storm.
“If we all come together we can make a difference.”
The current members of Kids Care Disaster Relief are Kristina, Colin Cambell, Olivia Hoy, Marlon Engelhard, Nino Englehard, Lila Dinkel, Maya, Ella Dinkel, Reece Dinkel, Ellie Applegren and Kat Sanders.
Girls sell bracelets to raise money for Hurricane Michael victims
Kristina Podlasek said she had to help after what she saw what Hurricane Michael did in the panhandle.
“We designed these bracelets to help hurricane victims,” Kristina said. “We saw pictures on the news and we realized that the houses were just flattened.”
“She kind of just said, ‘what can we do,'” Brian Podlasek said, her father. “And then we’re like, we can do bracelets.”
“We ordered 2,500,” Kristina said.
Kristina, 13, then recruited some of her Canterbury classmates.
“When she told us her idea, we all decided to pitch in,” Maya Shuster, 13, said. “We’ve been helping her sell. All of us actually went out to Sanibel Island and sold bracelets and we raised $427 dollars.”
The $427 turned into more than $2,000 in less than two weeks. Money that was directly helping families in need.
“On December 9th [we] are going to drive up to Mexico Beach and deliver all the money we raised straight to the families,” Ellie Appelgren, 12, said.
The girls sell these bracelets to raise money for Hurricane Michael victims. Photo via WINK News.
“100 percent,” Kristina chimed in.
Hurricane Michael devastated Mexico Beach when it struck the area on Oct. 12. It was the most powerful storm to hit the area since record keeping began in the mid-19th Century.
Since then, there have been additional devastating natural disasters throughout the country, such as the wildfires in California, which have killed nearly 50 people, leaving many homeless.
Kristina has big ambitions to help those areas, as the bracelets are just the beginning of the Podlasek’s new ‘Kids Care Disaster Relief‘ effort.
“We don’t want this to be just a one and done thing,” Ellie said. “We want to do this for every natural disaster that impacts families across the United States because I feel like helping. People is what all of us really want to do.”
“I hope maybe other parents understand that you can spend time teaching your kids something else to do with social media,” Brian said. “Use it to help.”
Because these kids continue to use social media and their time to raise relief for those in need.