Youngster determined to help those in need

Sophie presents her beach bag donation to the Department of Children and Family Services. From left are foster parents Shelda Seymour and Ann Haven, Sophie Elias and Deputy Director of Clinical Services Paulinda Mendoza-Williams.

Taking a cue from her mother, a young George Towner is doing her part to help those in need.

Sophie Elias with Holly Thompson of Impact 345.
Sophie Elias with Holly Thompson of Impact 345.

Sophie Elias, a Year 7 student at Cayman Prep, has been hard at work all year on various projects designed to help the less fortunate. She says was inspired by looking through her mom’s old scrapbooks and seeing the kinds of things she had done over the years.

“I was shown a couple of pictures from when my mom was a Lion. She was always helping people,” said 12-year-old Sophie.

Her mother Charmaine Elias, one of the founding members of the Lions Club of Tropical Gardens, noted that Sophie’s first charitable project happened over this past Easter.

“She made and sold cases of Easter candies using home-decorated jam jars,” said Ms. Elias.

“The funds from this project went towards the Mental Health Unit at the George Town hospital, where she donated a basketball set to the mental health ward, along with arts and craft items for the Mental Health outpatient drop-in center.”

This sparked Sophie’s second fundraiser, which was the sale of beach bags filled with beach toys.

“I wanted to do something to help the kids that were at Health City,” said Sophie.

Those buying the bags could keep them or donate them back to the community. The donated bags were given to young patients from Haiti having procedures at Health City Cayman Islands. That donation was arranged through Impact 345, a group of young people giving their time and companionship to children undergoing the free heart surgeries at Health City Cayman Islands, which are organized by the Have a Heart Foundation.

Ms. Elias said that at the time, she also tried to instill in her daughter the concept that “charity begins at home.”

Encouraged by her mother to seek out a need in her own community, Sophie did research on the Internet to learn more about how to help people closer to home.

“I learned that there are so many kids out there in Cayman the same age as me who don’t have much,” said Sophie.

As a result, the other 70 beach bags were given to the Department of Children and Family Services for 25 children who were adopted, along with several other children identified by the department.

“Each bag had a kite and sand castle building toys,” said Sophie. “I wanted them to have something they could have fun with.”

An animal lover who volunteers regularly at the Humane Society, Sophie also put together a talent show along with her friend Gileen MacDonald at the junior Cayman Prep site last June, which drew the interest of students as well as teachers, and Sophie enlisted classmates to help.

The show’s title was “Let Your Talent So Shine,” playing on their school motto, “Let Your Light So Shine.” Over three days of judging, 15 acts were chosen for the main event, which raised $250. The girls presented a check to the shelter in July.

Now that the bag project is done, Sophie is already working on a fundraising project for Christmas.

“We don’t know what it’s going to be exactly yet, but she’s very excited already,” said Ms. Elias.


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