There are 20 New York City children who will be ready for school after the holiday break thanks to 10-year old Bronx resident Elizabeth Rodriguez.
Elizabeth, and her mother Elbia Cabral, worked with Catholic Charities to provide $600 worth of school supplies to children who have recently escaped from other countries to the U.S. for safety, but are now living in poverty.
The idea came from a Catholic Charities program called Service in Schools.
“In September, news of the program was sent to all our volunteers, and Elizabeth’s mom, Elbia, responded with interest,” said Margaret Martin, director of the Catholic Charities Immigration Program.
“I told Elizabeth about it and as soon as I informed her she was like, ‘Yes! I want to do this,” said Cabral. “I remember her sending back the email the very same day requesting more information.”
From the beginning of the fundraising process both Cabral and Martin marveled at her work ethic.
“I sold lemonade, cookies, donuts, and things like that to raise money,” said Elizabeth, a student at Holy Rosary School.
Cabral said after they received the volunteer information she thought she and her husband Misael Rodriguez were going to have to financially support Elizabeth’s fundraiser.
Cabral expected her to raise about $200 dollars and Martin shared Cabral’s sentiment.
“When I first heard she started the project I thought she has a life and she’s in school with her friends so maybe we’ll get a backpack or two,” said Martin.
Elizabeth shattered all expectations.
“It was like her job to advocate and do sales everyday,” said Cabral. “She was really proactive about it.
She began raising money in September and by the end of the month she had already amassed $286.
By the end of October she reached her goal – $600.
She was able to buy 20 backpacks, passing the “five to seven” Cabral thought she would achieve.
Cabral said Elizabeth chose which bags she wanted and made sure they were bags she and her friends would use themselves.
In addition, she filled each bag with school supplies such as pens, paper and folders.
“I like helping people,” said Elizabeth. “I love it.”
Martin said the work Elizabeth did was inspiring.
“Elizabeth is so generous and thoughtful, and also enterprising,” she said. “Many of us would like to help but don’t know how to put that into action she did!
“Elizabeth is an inspiration to all New Yorkers and exemplifies that we are a city that thrives on and welcomes immigrants and diversity,” she added.
Cabral and Elizabeth dropped off the supply-filled backpacks in November.
Martin said they have since given out nearly all the backpacks to children ranging from ages four to 16.
“This is such a huge thing for children coming here from poor, violent countries to be our neighbors,” said Martin.