Raising money for victims of disasters
It’s surprising what kids can accomplish with the support of parents. Case in point: Kids Care Disaster Relief. When Hurricane Michael devastated Mexico Beach and tore through communities in Northwest Florida on October 10, 2018, 7th grader Kristina Podlasek had flashbacks to Hurricane Irma that caused havoc in Southwest Florida in September 2017. She not only remembered the storm’s wrath and living in one room with a generator for weeks, but how it affected people, leaving them in need of so many things beyond immediate food, clothing and shelter.
Kristina together with five of her classmates at Canterbury School in Fort Myers came up with the idea to create and sell band-style silicone bracelets with Hurricane Michael printed on the outside and the storm’s coordinates on the inside. They chose blue, the color of water, to represent the huge surge that wiped out Mexico Beach.
It didn’t take any convincing for Kristina’s parents Elke and Bryan Podlasek to support her newly formed Kids Care Disaster Relief. Their Island Cow restaurant on Sanibel became the first sponsor, purchasing 3,000 bracelets to help launch the nonprofit.
“The things you take for granted are gone,” says Kristina about how hurricanes and other disasters change your life. “If we all work together, we can make a difference.” Dedicated to the mission of building a children’s network throughout the United States to raise money and help those affected by current and future national disasters, Kristina enlisted her classmates
It didn’t take any convincing for Kristina’s parents Elke and Bryan Podlasek to support her newly formed Kids Care Disaster Relief.
Colin Cambell, Olivia Hoy, Maya Shuster, Kat Sanders and Ellie Appelgren. Her next step was to reach out to other students in the community and even across the country, encouraging them to join the team.
The Hurricane Michael bracelets cost $5. They can be purchased on the website kidscaredisasterrelief.com, and are available at the Island Cow restaurant. The children also sell them at farmers markets, ball games and other community venues and events. Because the project is made up of all volunteers and has no overhead, 100 percent of the proceeds goes directly to the hurricane victims.
One of the nonprofit’s goals is to increase sponsorships. “The children will go to vendors to get them to buy a large amount to resell or give away,” says Elke Podlasek. She also pointed out that in the first five days, the children raised $2,000. They reached people all over the country through Facebook and the online store.
The team will present the funds raised through Kids Care Disaster Relief to Mexico Beach Mayor Al Cathey. Elke says that it will be a gr eat field trip and a way for the students to earn community hours. “I’m sure Kristina will say ‘Wow mom, this was cool. Let’s do it again,’” says Elke.
And doing it again wasn’t that far off. On November 8, 2018, Kids Care Disaster Relief set up their second project to help those affected by the wild fires in California; bracelets are on sale online.
The children’s fundraising effort is proof that a little $5—and bighearted kids—can really make a difference.
The Kids Care Disaster Relief team receive support for their project from the Bank of the Islands on Sanibel. Front row: Kat Sanders, Maya Shuster, Kristina Podlasek and Willy Ocasio, the bank’s vice president & office manager. Back row: Ellie Appelgren, Olivia Hoy, Colin Cambell and Susan Schulte, teller ser vices representative.