An 11-year-old Abbotsford girl, with the help of a friend, has so far raised more than $5,000 for Ukraine after initially setting out to collect $50.
Hailey Townsend is selling handmade bracelets, bookmarks and other items by donation from a stand outside her home.
On the first day, she and her friend Aliyah Dionne – both in Grade 6 – set up outside for six hours to sell bookmarks, and ended up just shy of $300.
On the second day, Hailey sold Ukrainian-themed paintings she had done. Two and a half hours later, she had raised $380.
Her grandmother donated a bracelet-maker and some yellow and blue string, and Hailey then crafted Ukrainian-themed bracelets.
She operated her stand over another three days, as weather permitted, and increased the fundraising total to $1,100.
After media reports on her endeavours, more donations came in from Vernon, Kelowna, Langley and even Alberta, hiking the total to more than $2,500 as of Thursday afternoon (March 17) and up to $5,000 by Monday (March 21).
Hailey’s mom, Karitas, said Hailey and Aliyah started the fundraiser after hearing the news about Ukrainian children being impacted by the Russian invasion.
Part of their Grade 6 lessons focused on non-governmental organizations, and Hailey researched a few charities to which they could donate.
She became interested in donating to UNICEF after reading about their work in Ukraine for the past decade.
“She felt they were already doing such a good job helping the children before the war that she wanted to donate to help their Ukraine Emergency Fund,” Karitas said.
Hailey also earlier donated her own money to Caritas Polska, Poland’s main charity assisting refugees from Ukraine.
She previously helped out in the community by helping with sandbagging at Clayburn Village during the November floods.
Hailey and Aliyah also ran a stand with free lemonade and iced coffee over the last two summers to spread cheer without wanting any money in return.
So far for Ukraine, Hailey has made about 50 bracelets, a dozen paintings and about 70 bookmarks.
Karitas said some people who have stopped by have family and friends in Ukraine.
“Some take her picture to send to family in Ukraine to cheer them up and let them know they aren’t alone. One man even broke down in tears sharing his story about his friend who was unable to escape the war,” she said.
“It’s a lot for anyone to comprehend and very heavy on the heart of many, but Hailey is filled with light and compassion, and she genuinely cares for these people.”
Karitas said Hailey even offers free bracelets if people don’t have any cash on them to donate, “just to encourage them and brighten their day with hope.”
Hailey continues to make bracelets every day, and will set up her stand throughout spring break whenever the weather is good.
Karitas says if Hailey is not outside, people can knock on their door to make a donation. Their address is 2508 Guilford Drive.