Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Press Release: Zack is Back!

Attention fellow LDS bloggers, here is story that will hit Mormon Times in the morning (Wed). Feel free to grab it now and write about it. Our department, LDS Philanthropies has recently decided to begin releasing our stories to bloggers as well. Let me know if you are interested on receiving press releases and we will add you to our growing list. Could I ask one favor, if you decide to post on this story would you mind sending me a link so we can see the kind of interest there was. (christensenbt@ldschurch.org) Thanks again!

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!)

Zack’s Back!

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.”  

How many seven year olds does it take to raise enough money for ten wheelchairs in two days? Just one. Plus an 8-year-old neighbor and two helpful moms.

Many customers came in response to a notice on Facebook. More than 300 customers bought lemonade and homemade cookies.
Last year, Zack had a little money left over after raising funds for one wheelchair, so he bought a stuffed bunny for his then unborn sister. He named the bunny “Cookie.” Zack strikes a classic Zack pose with Cookie, his mom, and his sister.
Zack and his friend Aubrey pose for a photo during one of the few breaks they had between customers. Zack’s business grew this year so he enlisted his first “employee,” neighbor Aubrey Ellis.
Zack even offered curbside service to customers.
Zack frequently calculated how many wheelchairs he had raised money for.

How many readers think that Zack should franchise his operation next year?
Zack received a letter from a 9-year-old handicapped boy in Jordan who had received a wheelchair from LDS Charities.


  1. Nancy--Ok I seriously love this little guy! I can't believe what a go-getter and world-changer he is. Cute. Tell me your secrets. I want to raise my dude as good as you have!

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  3. This is such a great story. We'll be posting it to go up Wednesday morning.

    -Michelle, MW Editor

  4. Michelle, Thank you for sharing the info.
    Nikki, How do you know Nancy? You are right, her son is pretty amazing. When we went to interview him he did most of the talking, he was in charge.

  5. Great job kid...what a wonderful example for all of us you are showing. There is another great and continuous fund raising opportunity at YesFreeGas.com for all who eat and buy groceries to consider.


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