Change Makers

California girl’s gifts bloom with hope for other children

California girl’s gifts bloom with hope for other children

When 10-year-old Blakeleigh Snell of Easton, California, strolls through her family’s sprawling San Joaquin Valley orchard, she steps into a dreamy scene of fluttering petals, an abundance of pink and white star-shaped blossoms bursting with possibility.

“Peach, pomegranate, and apple trees,” says Blakeleigh. “The trees bloom at different times of the year, and the fruits I handpick and make into jam and sauce.”

Blakeleigh’s homemade goodies are far from your average jam. The home-schooled fifth-grader sells her stock of jellies and preserves under her label, Tree of Life. “Because they’re all fruits from trees, and they’re God’s trees, and fruits give life,” she says. “I want my gifts and money I earn from selling jam to help children to have a better life.”

Blakeleigh’s gifts given through the World Vision Gift Catalog help empower children and families to lift themselves out of poverty. “It feels really good to know that I’m helping someone else,” she says.

A $100 gift on Blakeleigh’s fifth birthday set her on the path to giving.

“She read the Gift Catalog from cover to cover and wanted to pick something that was special and meaningful from her,” says her mother, Candace.

That first year, Blakeleigh picked chickens. “I love my own chicken and going out and collecting eggs. I also send Bibles. I believe that helps in another way in their lives. Now, I wanted to do more,” she says.

Both her mother and her father, Andrew, encourage Blakeleigh and their 12-year-old son, Gatlin, to live out their Christian values and be generous in giving while becoming good stewards of their resources. Gatlin supports his younger sister by donating his money and time to help her in her mission to help others.

“The Bible speaks of the fruit of the Spirit, and I wanted to plant in my children those fruits. That’s love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control,” says Candace. “There is no long-term value in money as it’s only valued on earth—not in heaven. If we can provide love and relief to someone who needs it on earth, then it is ours to give.”

The family sponsors two children through World Vision. Blakeleigh and Gatlin share birthdays with them. Through letters and gifts, the family celebrates milestones, school advancements, and birthdays. “We pray for them daily,” says Blakeleigh.

In 2020, Blakeleigh raised $2,620 dollars to donate the Gift Catalog gift of 28 farm animals: two cows, two sheep, two pigs, two goats, and 20 chickens. She also raised $1,700 for clean water through World Vision’s Global 6K for Water in 2020.

This year, she’s dedicated to raising more funds, and is choosing between gifting an Animal of the Month package or a trio of dairy animals.

Her inventory keeps expanding too. In addition to jams, Blakeleigh now makes her own version of hot chocolate bombs (see recipe below).

This year, Blakeleigh’s giving will continue to be as bountiful as the blossoms of spring.

Blakeleigh’s Hot Chocolate Bombs

Servings: About 12

Supplies:

  • 1 mini muffin tin
  • 1 bag of chocolate chips
  • Assorted toppings (Be creative! We like crushed candy canes, crushed Andes mints, marshmallows, or white chocolate chips.)
  • 12 craft sticks (or tongue depressors or ice cream sticks)
  • 12 cellophane treat bags

Instructions:

  • Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or using a double boiler.
  • Fill each mini muffin cup with melted chocolate, just to the top. Be careful not to overfill or they will be difficult to pop out.
  • Add toppings of your choice.
  • Wait 3 to 5 minutes for the chocolate to firm up slightly, then insert the tongue depressor.
  • Place the tin in the fridge to harden the chocolate.
  • Once completely hardened, pop each hot chocolate bomb out and individually wrap in treat bags.
  • When you are ready to enjoy your hot chocolate bomb, stir it into 6 to 8 ounces of steaming hot milk (dairy or non-dairy) until it’s completely dissolved.

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