Category: Inspiring Little Citizens

Inspiring Little Citizens: Thank you for your support!

Thank you for supporting our Inspiring Little Citizens finalists. Together we donated over $37,000 to five amazing kids!

From painting and delivering 150 pictures to a local nursing home, to collecting pop tabs to help support the medical programs provided to families by the Ronald McDonald House, these kiddos are changing lives for the better. And thanks to the Tea community (all of you), they each now have $7,451.65 to make an even bigger difference.

Click their photos to read more about Cash, Lilyanne, Savannah, Bridger and Lillian and the good they’re doing in their communities. We can’t wait to see what they do next with their donations!

 

 

 

 

 

Keep tagging #InspiringKids2017 on Instagram & Facebook…we want to celebrate every act of kindness from all little citizens!

Meet Bridger | 2017 Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Bridger, from Richfield, Utah. Even though he doesn’t speak, this smiling 4-year-old teaches everyone he meets the value of life. He is deaf and his vision is impaired, yet he always carries on with a smile. He can’t walk, sit or crawl, but has moved mountains with the light he radiates. He has changed the world around him for the better, showing you don’t need words to make a big impact. And what lesson is more valuable than that?

Bridger Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

From his sweet nature to his unwavering positivity in the face of adversity, we can all learn a thing or two from Bridger. So we asked his parents to dig a little deeper into his story.

Tell us a bit about Bridger…when did you first discover he was hearing and visually impaired?
When Bridger was born, we had no idea the disabilities he was facing. He appeared as healthy as could be. The only red flag from the beginning was his failed hearing screening. As he grew, we started to notice many red flags. By the time he was four months old, the flags were so red, we knew there was something wrong. After seeing a pediatric neurologist and an audiologist at Primary Childen’s hospital, Bridger had some testing done, which included an MRI, an ABR and blood work.

The ABR results were instant, and the audiologist told us Bridger had ‘profound’ hearing loss. This news left us numb and completely devastated. As for the MRI results, I received a call from the doctor with the results on February 14, 2014, while walking into the elementary school to help with my sons Valentine’s class party. I remember the doctor saying, “I wish I was calling with good news, but I’m not. What we found is not what we wanted to see….” I felt my heart break into a million pieces as he explained the results. Bridger was lacking myelin (white matter) in his brain. From his MRI, he was diagnosed with PMD (Pelizaeus-Merzbacher Disease). Since then, we have had countless genetic testing done to confirm this P.M.D.  diagnosis and haven’t been able to confirm that he has this disease. We have also tested for all other types of diseases to try to pinpoint a diagnosis and have been unsuccessful.  At this point, he is now listed as having undiagnosed leukodystrophy.

That’s not all—when Bridger was about 8 months old we took him to see an ophthalmologist. It was then we found out he had cataracts forming on both eyes. One cataract needed to be surgically removed immediately; the other has been progressively forming and he has surgery scheduled for this August.

Bridger already has cochlear implants, a surgery he had when he was a mere 16 months old. He has now had his implant for 2 and a half years and it’s still very debatable what he hears. Bridger is also fed through a G-J tube 24/7. 

So how does Bridger express himself, and at what age did he learn to do so?
Communication has been a huge area of concern for us. With Bridger’s condition, sign language hasn’t been something that has worked for communication. To make a long story short, at this point, we have two gestures that we have been able to get Bridger to do to communicate with us. He started to use these gestures at the age of 3. If he wants more of something he will lift or raise one hand. When he is done with something he will put one arm across his chest. He does this well, but not 100% of the time.

How have physical limitations impacted life for Bridger, and what do you hope to do with this donation to make his life richer and the world more inclusive?

Bridger’s life has been impacted in countless ways due to his disabilities. He can’t see further than 5-6 feet away, he cannot run, walk, talk, eat by mouth, sit on his own, etc. We want him to enjoy as much of a ‘normal’ childhood as humanly possible. 

He adores playing with his big brother and sister, and one activity we love is going to the park. But sadly, there aren’t any adaptive swings or any other activities there that Bridger can enjoy. He is left to hang with us on the sidelines as his siblings play. The same goes for at school – when Bridger goes to recess, there isn’t any adaptive equipment there either.

With your support and Tea’s contribution, Bridger’s family plans to install an adaptive swing or other adaptive play equipment for their local park and/or school. This would be life-changing for all local children with disabilities, allowing them to engage in play with other kids rather than be forced to the sidelines to watch.

Head to TeaCollection.com and shop through August 3rd to help make our playgrounds a more inclusive place for Bridger and other kids like him!


“Bridger is one in a million. He teaches without words, and leads without taking a single step. His daily physical battles are intense, yet he takes it all in stride. Just spend some time with a child like Bridger, and you’ll walk away a better person, appreciating the simple things in life, like the gift of sight, the gift of legs that work, the gift to speak, the gift to see, and so much more.”

 

Bridger Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Savannah | 2017 Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Savannah of Elk Grove, California. Just a few months shy of 10 years old, Savannah is a bright, young spirit with a big smile and an even bigger heart. She’s held bake sales, participated in charity runs and even donated some of her own savings, all to help support local foster child advocacy organizations.

Once a foster child herself, the plight of foster children without forever families has always been near and dear to Savannah’s heart. And today, she is an advocate for other kids like her who are waiting to find their forever homes.

Savannah Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Lucky for Savannah, she found and joined the Bailey family through foster care adoption early on in life. Her parents share with us her story…

Tell us how Savannah (and her siblings) came into your lives.

Savannah entered our lives as a happy, boisterous two-month-old nearly ten years ago. She was technically in foster care until just after her first birthday (when her adoption finalized), but there was no doubt from day one that this little girl was the center of our world. We knew then that we wanted a bigger family, so we returned to fostering in the hopes of adopting, and ended up being placed with our oldest son, Miles, who came home at seven months old. After a few years, we decided as a family to return to fostering again and this time were matched with our youngest daughter, Cora, who came home at four months old.

We thought we were done with three kiddos, but Miles kept mentioning that he wanted a brother so we decided to go back one last time and ended up being matched with our youngest son, Amari, who joined the family at two and a half years old. While our first three kiddos joined the family as babies, Amari  came to us after being in 8 other homes in just two years. I think for Savannah it really drove home the point that not all foster children end up with permanency at such a young age, and many bounce from home to home like her brother Amari did. She now understands on a different level what a huge difference it makes for a child to have the love and care of a forever family as early as possible.

Not only does Savannah understand firsthand the importance of finding a loving foster home, but she believes “all foster kids should get a say in where they end up and where they feel safe” and is going the extra mile to help make sure that happens.

With your help and Tea’s contribution, she plans to donate to her local Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) organization, which provides volunteer advocates to children in the foster care system to help ensure their voices are heard in court.

Savannah Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Head to TeaCollection.com and shop through August 3rd to support Savannah in her efforts to help foster kids around the country!

Meet Lillian | 2017 Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Lillian from Kansas City, Missouri. At just 7 years old, Lillian is an accomplished baker and lemonade-maker extraordinaire. But she’s not just making cookies and squeezing lemons to entertain friends and neighbors—this little citizen has bigger plans in mind. Lillian wants to make sure that all kids have enough to eat, so she’s selling her delicious treats to support No Kid Hungry.

Lillian H Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

What sparked this great idea? We asked Lillian herself, and here’s what she said:

When and where did you first learn about this global problem?

At my school, I learned about hungry kids in Haiti during chapel and wanted to help. My school and church run a food pantry, and I started collecting food for them when I was three. 

And just like that, Lillian helped raise money for the food program at an elementary school in faraway Ravine a l’Anse, Haiti.

Over the years, Lillian has had the great fortunate of meeting many of the children and adults she’s helped raise money to support. So we asked her…

Lillian, how does it make you feel to know that you are helping kids less fortunate live better lives?
It makes me feel very good and happy. 

Lillian loves doing what she can to help children throughout the world, and can’t wait to do more. In fact, she’s participating as a youth baker in the No Kid Hungry Kansas City bake sale this fall, and all proceeds will go to feed hungry children across America. With Tea’s contribution, she plans to further support No Kid Hungry, knowing that every dollar will provide 10 meals for children in need…and with $1,000 that’s over 10,000 meals!

Head to TeaCollection.com and shop through August 3rd to help her reach her goal!

Lillian H Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Lilyanne | 2017 Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Lilyanne from Asheville, North Carolina. A young budding artist at just 4 years old, charismatic Lilyanne is as charitable as she is creative. When asked “what is something you would do to make someone who is unhappy at Christmas time feel better,” Lilyanne responded “I would paint them a pretty picture.” And that’s just what she did. In fact, she didn’t just paint one…she spent months painting 150 8″x10″ delightful works of art.

Then, with the help of her mom, she wrapped and hand delivered each painting to local nursing and assisted living homes and communities on Christmas Eve.

Lilyanne Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

We were so impressed, that we wanted to hear more about the inspiration behind these paintings, so (with the help of her mom) we asked Lilyanne a few questions.

Tell us a little bit about the pictures you painted…when you first sat down to paint, how did you decide what to fill the blank space with?
I wanted to use lots of pretty colors that would make people happy. I painted them in layers, one color at a time. “I liked making complicated pictures”, were Lilyanne’s exact words.

Your paintings are so colorful and lovely! How did you decide who to gift them to?
My mama and I decided that we really wanted to give my pictures to people that needed some holiday cheer. I love my Pop Pop, my Nana and my Great Grandma and decided I wanted to give my pictures to grown ups. I wanted to give them to people that didn’t have anyone to spend Christmas with, because everyone should get a present at Christmas time–even grown ups!

I bet you’ve made a lot of new friends at the local nursing/assisted living homes you’ve donated to. Can you tell us about some of the friends you’ve met?
Everyone was really nice to me. It took us all day to give away my pictures, because everyone invited us in to visit. I got to watch everyone open their present. I got a lot of hugs, cookies, candy and even a stuffed bunny. But my favorite part was making people smile. A lot of the people sent me thank you cards, and I really liked that because I love getting mail and making friends.

How does it feel to know that your paintings are brightening people’s days?
It makes me feel happy. I wish everyone was just happy all of the time.

You’ve decided to use your donation from Tea to help make sick kids’ dreams come true through Make-A-Wish. Do you think you’ll continue to make your paintings as a holiday tradition, either for the kids at Make-A-Wish or for the friends you’ve made at the elderly homes in your community?
I do want to keep doing my paintings for people at Christmas time. This year, I want to make them for the sick kids in the hospital so I can cheer them up. I don’t like it when I’m sick, so maybe I can help them feel better. I hope I make lots of friends when my Mama takes me to bring them to the kids.

And there you have it! With a ways to go until the holiday season, Lilyanne is currently helping her mom raise money for Make-A-Wish Central Carolina. With your support and Tea’s contribution, together we can help them towards their team goal of $100,000 and personal goal of $1,000.

Head to TeaCollection.com and shop through August 3rd to show your support and give back to this great cause!

Lilyanne Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Cash | 2017 Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

Meet Cash from Marshall, Minnesota. He may only be 7 years old, but young Cash is quite the little entrepreneur. On a mission to help critically ill kids and their families get access to the medical services and support they need, Cash has been passionately raising money for the Ronald McDonald House since before he could walk through his service project, Cash’s Cans.

Cash Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

What do cans have to do with helping children in need? We asked Cash’s family, and they let us in on the whole story…

How did the idea for Cash’s Cans come about?

Cash had an extensive hospitalization including multiple surgeries as an infant. The Ronald McDonald House, Upper Midwest provided a warm and comfortable stay for us during this difficult time. For his 1st birthday party, we asked guests to bring pop tabs (which the Ronald McDonald House collects and turns in to generate revenue for their programs) and wish list items for the Ronald McDonald House in lieu of gifts. Following that outpouring of support, Cash’s Cans was born!

For those who aren’t familiar with the organization, the Ronald McDonald House provides a home away from home for families to be together during a health crisis. This includes a warm place to stay and rest, a place to do laundry, a home-cooked meal, etc.

His mom recalls just how supportive they were during the family’s time of need…

When Cash was critically ill we were 3 hours from home. The Ronald McDonald House literally became our new home for three months – a safe place, with compassionate caring staff there to support us while we cared for Cash.

Ever since, Cash and his family have continued to show their deep appreciation for the Ronald McDonald House through the form of donations. Cash himself holds annual wish list drives (typically on or around his birthday) and collects pop tabs year round. He also distributes small pop tab collection houses to encourage others to save pop tabs.

Cash Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist

By our calculations, Cash has collected over 6 million pop tabs! Does Cash partner with schools or restaurants to collect pop tabs?
Cash has collected and donated 4,690 pounds of pop tabs or approximately 5, 590, 480 (we stand corrected) individual tabs. Pop tabs come from a variety of places that partner with us including several area schools, businesses and organizations. Cash’s Cans Facebook page has also helped get the word out. Cash has collected pop tabs from almost every state – often pop tabs are anonymously dropped off at our door or mailed to our house. His project has also inspired lots of his friends to save. 

How has Cash’s Cans made a difference in your lives?
Cash’s Cans has provided a simple, yet impactful way to give back, assist families with sick children and encourage others (no matter their age) to help others.

It’s clear to us that Cash loves helping others, so we asked him what he loves most about the work he’s doing and what it’s taught him…
It feels good to save pop tabs and help people and sick kids. Even kids can help others. More people should do what they can to help those in need.

With Tea’s contribution, Cash plans to continue his contributions to the Ronald McDonald House, Upper Midwest. Head to TeaCollection.com and shop through August 3rd to help him reach his goal!

Cash Inspiring Little Citizens Finalist