Amazing Kids! Magazine

Amazing Kid! of the Month – Erin Manuel – December 2014

Erin Manuel, 12-year-old Hero for Haiti
By Kasey Dallman, AKOM Writer

 

Quote of the Month

“My mom has been a great mentor to me. She has taught me a lot, and I don’t think I could have raised this much money without her help.”
– Erin Manuel, 12-year-old Hero for Haiti

December Amazing Kid! of the Month

December is a time for family, warm hugs, and counting our blessings. But five years ago, tragedy was brewing for one Caribbean country. In January 2010 when the Hati earthquake struck, Erin Manuel (then only 7-years-old) knew she had to do something. She began changing the world with just a three dollar donation. Now, 12-year-old Erin Manuel has donated over $10,000 for the cause.

Erin Manuel, 12-year-old Hero for Haiti.

Erin Manuel, 12-year-old Hero for Haiti.

We are so excited to name Erin as our December Amazing Kid of the Month. Her story will definitely warm your heart in this season of giving! Keep reading to learn more about Erin and find out how starting out small could be the biggest difference you ever made!

Three dollars can change a life

When the 2010 7.0 magnitude Haiti earthquake devastated and reeked havoc on the lives of 3 million people, Erin knew she had to do something. Only 7-years-old at the time, she was determined to send her savings of three dollars to help rebuild the torn country. Still wanting to do more, Erin started doing more chores around her house to save up more money to donate to Haiti.

A few months later, “I decided to do a bake sale at the farmers market to raise more money,” Erin said. “I made $157 at that sale, and it inspired me to do even more.”

To raise money Erin has been using her passions of art, photography, and music to create products to sell at her local farmers market. Awesome work Erin!

To raise money Erin has been using her passions of art, photography, and music to create products to sell at her local farmers market. Awesome work Erin!

Now, years later, Erin is just as dedicated to the cause as she was back then. She has become a local figure at her famers market, selling baked goods, selling bookmarks and greeting cards made from her own artwork and photography, and even performing her violin for tips.

“This past year, I’ve expanded to sell little figures of babies and children I make out of polymer clay,” Erin said. “I call them ‘Love Buddies,’ and tell people that they are reminders that no child should grow up in poverty.”

“This past year, I’ve expanded to sell little figures of babies and children I make out of polymer clay,” Erin said. “I call them ‘Love Buddies,’ and tell people that they are reminders that no child should grow up in poverty.”

The money Erin raises is donated to Partners in Health, an organization she found out about from a book her mother had been reading at the time of the 2010 earthquake. Partners in Health, or PIH, provides health care to those in poverty, and operates 12 clinics and hospitals across Haiti’s Central Plateau and lower Artibonite.

PIH has been a great place for Erin to donate her money to. “They had already been in Haiti for years, so they were able to mobilize very quickly after the earthquake,” she said. “Now that I donate regularly to PIH, I watch the website closely to see what they are doing, and I was even able to travel to their headquarters in Boston to meet several of my heroes there, including Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl.”

Erin shows us that it doesn’t have to be daunting and scary to try to make a difference. We can use our own talents and passions to change the lives of countless people! Something as small as three dollars can spark hope for change and grow into thousands of dollars.

Erin’s advice: Four quick tips to start making a difference

1. Start small

Nearly five years ago when Erin started raising money for Haiti, reaching $100 seemed like a far off dream. “When I finally reached that goal at the end of the year, I though maybe I can do this! I am going to do this,” she said.

After that, Erin made a larger goal of $1,000 to strive for. Then $5,000 and $10,000. “If someone told me that I had to raise $10,000 I would have said, ‘no way!’ But when I started small and worked my way up, I felt like I was almost there.”

Having just recently surpassed her $10,000 goal, Erin is now working for $20,000.

Having just recently surpassed her $10,000 goal, Erin is now working for $20,000.

2. Ask for help

Taking on a monumental project all by yourself can be draining, stressful, and just not fun at all. Enlist your friends or family to add extra creativity and support. “My mom has been a great mentor for me,” Erin said. “She has taught me a lot and I don’t think I could have raised this much money without her help.”

3. Keep the end result in mind

Dedicating so much time and effort to help the community, nation, or world is exhausting for anyone. “Sometimes when I am at the farmers market and I am having a slow day or I am feeling very tired, I sometimes think, ‘Why am I doing this? I could be sitting at home relaxing.’” Erin admitted.

Remember to be reflective of the experience. What inspired you in the first place? Who are you helping? Thinking back to those you are benefiting will cheer you up on even the hardest of days! “When I get home (from the farmers market) and I count all the money I made that day, or I add up the total for the year, I know why I am this. I am helping people who are really in need,” Erin said. “There is no better feeling than that.”

4. Don’t let anything stop you

Here at Amazing Kids! we are proof that young people can make a difference and change the world. Don’t let anyone stop you from believing this! “I think sometimes kids think that since they are shy or young that they can’t do things,” Erin said. “But the truth is, you can.”

“Even though I was very nervous about it, I began playing my violin at the market for tips,” Erin said. “I was amazed at how nice and supportive everyone was about it.

“Even though I was very nervous about it, I began playing my violin at the market for tips,” Erin said. “I was amazed at how nice and supportive everyone was about it.

When Erin first started out at the farmers market she was 7-years-old and a complete introvert. The thought of selling items and talking to random strangers was terrifying. “I was scared out of my wits,” Erin said. Now Erin says that the experience has gotten easier and easier. “If I had just give n up because I was too young or nervous, I would be a different person than I am today.”

Are you our next Amazing Kid?

Erin is a great reminder that helping others gives off contagious energy that we can’t avoid! “Whenever I finish a goal, I set a higher one,” she said. For now, she knows that she will continue raising money and awareness for the needs of Haiti. Further down the line, Erin has plans of being a scientist, working for Partners in Health, or making other strides in global health.

What passions and talents can you use to make a difference? We can’t wait to hear all about your contributions! Who knows, maybe you will end up here as one of our very own Amazing Kid! of the Month. Whatever you do, don’t just walk after your dreams. Dance after them!