A funny thing happened to me on the way to Costalegre in Jalisco, Mexico at the Annual Conference of the North American Travel Journalists Association. I was sitting in the back of a van surrounded by people I did not know. All happened to be Canadians and, as I found out later, every single one a perfectly delightful person.
A woman was talking about her daughter and describing an empathetic, caring, and philanthropic child that viewed the world through a compassionate lens.
Yes, we are all proud of our children but there was a level of wonder that captivated me – one that accompanied the words as Helen, the Host of a Canadian travel show Weekend Jaunts, described what she thought motivated her daughter, Bella.
Helen explained that Bella’s primary project is raising money to build schools in other countries in communities that have no schools – five of them so far and she plans to raise money to build a school a year for every year she is in school. OK, she had my attention!
In my bag I’d been carrying a “Be Kind” sticker that I got from a fellow blogger and creator of www.PlanetBe.com, Kim Tackett, and I’d been looking for a home for it for about six months. What better place for that sticker than in the hands of a young philanthropist?
The sticker’s new home is next to the light switch. Turn on the light and a reminded to Be Kind!
So, it was set. The sticker was going to Toronto with Helen and all I asked in return was a photo of the sticker’s new home.
It gets better though. I found out that Bella started an annual fundraising event 5 years ago called Bella’s Bake Sale (please check out and Like her Facebook page). What a cool idea and community event!
Here is the kicker: Bella, the fundraising powerhouse with a heart of pure gold, is 10 years old. She started raising money to build schools when she was five!!!!
That’s Bella in the middle in pink surrounded by friends from Forest Run Public School!
This is a young lady I needed to meet.
Bella and I met on Skype. She is one poised and inspirational 10 year old! Bella spoke about how it made her feel when she found out that some children did not have a school to attend – no building, no classroom. “Every child should be able to go to school,” Bella explained and I believed that statement came from the bottom of her soul.
Bella told me that when she was in kindergarten she read a book, got inspired, and came home talking about how she could help. She and her “co-worker” (Mom) teamed up with and are working under the umbrella of the international NGO Free the Children to facilitate her good work and make sure that the money goes where it is intended. Bella picks the country and Free the Children makes the project happen.
This fall at Bella’s Bake Sale will be raising money to build a school in Nepal to help offset the damage done by the devastating earthquakes earlier this year. “They lost so much,” she said.
The award Bella is most proud of? The Character Development Award for: EMPATHY!
That’s Helen getting an award from the Governor General. Inspiring compassion!
To be fair, Bella has an incredible role model and both mother and daughter have been recognized for their efforts – Helen received the Caring Canadian Award (presented by the Governor General) and Bella has been recognized by the Toronto District School Board and the Governor for inspiring so many kids to do and give more!
The unstoppable team behind Bella’s Bake Sale!
Children learn by example. Helen would probably discount this but I know that it takes a special kind of person to raise this special child. Together Bella and Helen are an unstoppable team.