Kid Power

Rais­ing money for vic­tims of dis­as­ters

Times of the Islands - - Departments - Pa­tri­cia Le­takis is the man­ag­ing ed­i­tor for TOTI Me­dia.

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.

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