LDS Philanthropies is a department within the Office of the Presiding Bishopric charged with facilitating the philanthropic desires of members around the world and helping the Church to accomplish its work. Here is an article about our department in this month's Ensign
This story is about a young boy who used his own ingenuity, a generous heart, and social media to make a big impact. (He raised enough money for 10 wheelchairs in two days!)
By Howard Collett
Zack’s back, and with all the energy a seven-year-old can muster. Last year, his lemonade stand in Provo, Utah raised enough money for one wheelchair (watch video). He donated the money to LDS Charities.
Zack got the idea at his school, Wasatch Elementary, where classes were raising money for wheelchairs following the Haiti earthquake. This year, sales increased tenfold and Zack raised enough money for ten wheelchairs—all in a single weekend.
“He’d been bugging me for weeks, asking when it would be time to set up his lemonade stand,” said his mother, Nancy Bird. “He kept saying, ‘Put everything on Facebook.’ This morning, he got up and said, ‘Is it time? Let’s get the cookies made!’ He could hardly contain himself. He even said, ‘If we get enough, maybe we’ll even buy a [clean water] well.’ I told him that we should just focus on one thing at a time.”
“We put the fundraiser details on Facebook,” said Nancy. “I sent the information to everyone I was friends with, and they sent it to their friends—about 500 people in all. Before we even set up the stand we had received about $150 in the mail from people who couldn’t come.”
“$178,” corrected Zack, with all the enthusiasm of a budding entrepreneur. “And one was as far away as Alaska!”
Part of Zack’s enthusiasm was fueled by a letter he received last year. “This is my special thanks for people in America in general and as a special one for you, my friend Zack,” said Abdulla Monsour Oudah, recipient of a wheelchair from LDS Charities. “I kiss your forehead [a supreme Arabic act of respect]. I am proud of you and what you did for me and for other people who need help. Since we are handicapped, we do not have what ordinary boys have, but we have a smart brain and willingness from our God to help us handle our problem to face life bravely.”
Abdulla is nine years old and lives in Quesan, Jordan. He has been paralyzed since birth. His letter was forwarded to Zack by Elder and Sister Colson, humanitarian missionaries serving in Jordan. The Colsons shared how Abdulla’s brothers help him get to school in his wheelchair—a distance of three kilometers over a rocky road.
“We asked him how the wheelchair has changed his life,” said the Colsons. “He said, ‘Now I can play games! He also enjoys riding around outside and being with his family.”
To assist more people like Abdulla, Zack hoped to increase the number of wheelchairs he could help buy this year. He recruited eight-year-old family friend Aubrey Ellis to help. The two kept busy packaging cookies in plastic bags and pouring lemonade for drive-by customers. Zack’s Shack was so busy on Friday that they decided to work Saturday as well. Nancy estimates they had more than 300 customers in two days.
And all because a little boy wanted to help those in faraway lands be able to get around.
“I am sorry that you are not able to walk,” Zack wrote back to Abdulla. “But at least you can now get around and have fun in your new wheelchair. I am glad I could help earn money to help you and other people. I know that Heavenly Father loves all of us and is happy when we help others.”