Unique donation for a community cause

Stella Johnson and Rachel  Erickson raised $57 for the Grace Family Center by making jewelry and selling it door-to-door. (Submitted photo)
Stella Johnson and Rachel
Erickson raised $57 for the Grace Family Center by making jewelry and selling it door-to-door. (Submitted photo)

Girls raise funds for Grace Family Center

The Grace Family Center project has galvanized community support, including the unique support of two area girls who came up with their own
fundraising idea.

Together, 9-year-old Rachel Erickson and 10-year-old Stella Johnson made shell jewelry, sold their creations door-to-door and then gave the money to support the construction of the Grace Family Center. This new building will replace the Annex and house the Westonka Food Shelf and Pennywise Thrift Store.

Both girls attend Hilltop Primary, and inspiration from school was one of the factors motivating the girls’ idea.

“My teacher, Mr. Schmidt, he always says to save the world so me and Stella thought of the idea to make shell bracelets,” Rachel said.

Plus, both of their families are well-connected to the community.

“We go to Our Lady of the Lake Church and our friends are helping with the food shelf,” Rachel said.

Helping the food shelf was the girls’ primary purpose.

“We wanted to help people in need,” Stella said.

“They don’t have enough money for food, and I just want to help,” Rachel said.

The girls started making the bracelets in early November and delivered the donation in December.

Rachel’s brother, Joe, also helped and provided the shells for the

“We found shells in Joe’s room and we decided to make necklaces with them,” Stella explained.

Stella and Rachel worked on the project over sleepovers before embarking on the next step: selling their creations.

“We went around the neighborhood and we told people what we were selling them for and we told people we were doing it for the Grace Center and a lot of people were interested,” Rachel said.

Jennifer Erickson coached the girls to explain the cost and stay in the neighborhood as they went door-to-door. Otherwise, the effort was driven by the girls, who wanted to give all they could.

“They did most of the heavy lifting,” Erickson added.

“We didn’t have any involvement in it,” said Todd Johnson, Stella’s father.

“I said, ‘Are you going to keep any of the money or give it all?’ They decided they wanted to give it all,” Erickson added.

This is the first time Rachel and Stella have raised money for a cause outside of the school.

“It was the first time they had acknowledged the need to help the community and help others without someone else encouraging them to do it,” Erickson said. “I was really proud that they spent their time doing that rather than watching movies or playing video games.”

“She’s setting a good example for her classmates and her brother,”
Erickson added.

Johnson saw the girls’ actions as reflective of their families’ values.

“We’re pretty active in that way,” Johnson said. “To me, it’s normal.”

Those involved in fundraising for Grace Family Center thought the girls’ project was commendable.

“I was grateful, but I was also incredibly impressed by the thoughtfulness of these kids,” said Brent Collins of the Grace Family Center finance committee.

Contact Katie Morford at [email protected]