Many children enjoy earning a little spending money with a paper route or babysitting job. Some show early entrepreneurial tendencies by creating a product and marketing it in their neighborhood — think of the humble lemonade stands that pop up on front lawns on sultry summer days.
When it comes to community involvement, many youths are first introduced to the value of helping others through volunteer work at their place of worship or charity fundraising events at school. However, there are those rare young people who have the wherewithal to take things to the next level. Here are the stories of three children with a passion for running a profitable business that gives back to the community.
Vanilla feeds hunger
Fourteen-year-old Tennessee high school student William Cabaniss loves to bake. When he saw news stories about the increasing number of people turning to food banks during the pandemic, he wanted to help. Many young people might think of gathering their friends together and organizing a neighborhood food drive, but not William. He was focused on finding a way to make a bigger and more long-lasting impact.
Realizing that vanilla was a staple in most kitchens, he decided there was a market for the product that he could tap into. So, he set about researching how to make vanilla extract. As he explained to Farragut Press, “I know people were doing a lot more baking during the pandemic. I thought I could sell vanilla extract and contribute to the food banks since they needed monetary donations.”
With assistance and encouragement from his family, William’s journey led him to launch the nonprofit Vanilla Feeds Tomorrow. Each 8-ounce bottle of vanilla extract sports a spiffy label, personally designed by this young CEO, that lets consumers know their purchase provides 42 meals for people in Eastern Tennessee. So far, William’s business has raised over $9,000 and allowed the Second Harvest Foodbank to offer more than 27,000 meals to those in need.
Painting for charity
When Daisy Watt was 6 years old, both her paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were diagnosed with cancer. Daisy painted pictures of the flowers in her South Yorkshire garden to cheer them up. Her mother, Karen, who has a degree in art, saw right away that her daughter had exceptional talent. The cheerful and colorful paintings had a Monet-like quality to them.
Karen supported Daisy’s love of painting by providing larger canvases and letting the youngster experiment further. She asked her daughter if she was interested in making a painting to auction for cancer charities. Subsequently, Daisy’s debut artwork, in aid of two cancer charities, was auctioned at a local gallery.
The piece celebrated those who had survived cancer and remembered those who had not with forget-me-nots. It eventually sold for £9,500, or about $12,200. One hundred special-edition prints were made for buyers all over the world.
Now 10 years old, Daisy has auctioned 25 original canvases and prints, raising £50,000, or over $64,000, for cancer charities over the past four years.
Diapers from lemonade
Cartier Carey is only 11 years old, but he already has a strong social conscience. While visiting his grandmother during the summer of 2020, he noticed that many single mothers in the area were struggling to provide for their children amid the COVID-19 pandemic. He talked with his grandmother about what he could do to help her neighbors afford some of the essentials. His grandmother told the Virginia-Pilot, “As he’s getting older, he kind of understands [the difficulties others face].”
Cartier added, “God wants you to do this type of stuff, like he wants you to help out. That’s what I did.”
The enterprising boy proceeded to put together a lemonade stand to raise much-needed funds for the moms in the Hampton, Virginia community. He used his profits to buy necessities, such as diapers and wipes, that he knew would make a real difference for mothers and their babies. By mid-summer, the youngster had accumulated almost $5,000 from lemonade sales and 6,500 diaper donations. By September, he had distributed 22,000 diapers, near his goal of 25,000.
Cartier hasn’t stopped there. He has expanded his efforts to reach more people in need by founding a nonprofit called Kids 4 Change 757.
Who knows what the future holds for these enterprising youngsters? Wherever life takes them, their nose for business combined with their giving nature will surely mean they will succeed in whatever they take on.