In January 2010, Eliza Stewart had a grand idea. At 6 years, old she wanted to start her own business and make some money. Her Mom, Krisa Stewart, was hesitant to do this because Eliza’s plan was to have a store outside of their home. And Eliza tells us, “My mom didn’t really want me making a lot of money at that age.”
So, Eliza decided to have a pretend store called “Valentines” in her bedroom and, in turn, this would be a store where she could make Valentine gifts. As Eliza’s Mom talked more with her, she told her daughter that in order to have a real business she would need to pay for things up front first.
At this time, Haiti, had just experienced a devastating earthquake. Both mom and daughter talked about how neat it would be to help those people in Haiti. The Stewarts knew of a friend who was very familiar with a local organization called “Healing Hands for Haiti.” They learned this organization consisted of doctors who volunteered their time by traveling from America to Haiti to help the people there.
Healing Hands for Haiti had been around for many years, but in 2010 the earthquake had destroyed one of the medical clinics. Eliza decided that she could sell her Valentine bags filled with heart-shaped brownie cakes and give part of the money to this important organization. According to Eliza, “It was A LOT of work. My mom and I baked over 100 cakes!! I had to buy lots of bags and goodies to go inside them.”
Eliza found that it was fun to make something special for people in Haiti who were so far away from her own home. After selling many brownie cakes, Eliza collected her money in a small jar. She was then given the opportunity, through a friend, to deliver her hard-earned money to the founder of the Healing Hands for Haiti. Also, there was Dr. Randle who was part of the foundation and had traveled to Haiti to help begin the process of building clinics.
Eliza said, “It was pretty neat. Dr. Randle even cried when I gave it (the jar) to him. And for some reason lots of other people were crying, too. I realized that this was a good kind of crying and I could spread lots of love at Valentine’s Day if I keep it up.”
Fast forward to today, in 2017, and Eliza is an 8th grader and going stronger than ever! Just this past Valentine’s Day, she collaborated with Orion Junior High to press forward with her fundraiser for which she has titled, “Eliza’s Hearts for Haiti.”
Valentine orders came in from students and community members making it a total of 825 bags. Each bag contained: 2 fresh baked, soft-top double chocolate cookies, Hershey kisses, a heart-shaped crazy straw or festive heart pick, a tag with Healing Hands for Haiti logo and all in a heart-printed bag for just $3.00.
“Smith’s grocery store bent over backwards for us. They donated 12,000 kisses and gave us a discount on the cookies,” Krisa Stewart says.”
With Orion Junior High’s help, “Eliza’s Hands for Haiti” was able to earn between $1,800-2,000-- all to be donated to those suffering in Haiti. Last year, they earned a total of around $550.
Krisa says, “That’s our focus-- to grow a little more every year. This helps the people of Haiti to be more productive in their communities.”
And now that she’s realized the great need in Haiti, Eliza says, “I used to give only 25% of the profit but now I give it all.” “Eliza’s Hands for Haiti” has been going for 7 years now, with the exception of just one year.
When she turns 15, Eliza will have the exciting opportunity to go on a 10-day service trip to Haiti where she’ll get to help around the hospitals and clinics. We wish her the best in the years to come!
If you’d like to read more from Eliza Stewart’s blog, you can go to www.elizashearts4haiti.com.