Change Makers

Sammie’s story: Making the world a better place

Close up of a smiling girl with an oven, mixer, and bag of flour behind her.

In the spring of 2022, Samantha, who goes by Sammie, listened as her teacher explained that many people around the world don’t have access to clean water or enough food to eat.

The now 8-year-old New Jersey girl remembers thinking, “I want to help other people in other countries.” But she didn’t know how she could do that. “I can’t just send water over in [a] truck,” she says.

Still she wanted to do something. “I felt like if I was one of them, I wouldn’t survive.”

How to help

Girl uses a spatula to lift a goat-shaped cookie from a baking sheet to place on a cooling rack.
Sammie works hard in her family’s kitchen baking goat cookies. She chose that shape so people would understand she was raising funds to provide goats through World Vision’s Gift Catalog to families in need. (2022 photo courtesy of Kristina LeViere)

So, she came home and explained everything to her mom and dad. “We felt really proud that she was thinking about other people,” says Sammie’s mother, Kristina. They wanted to support her desire to help.

Her dad, Nick, discovered World Vision’s Gift Catalog online. They saw the option to fund a water well, but the price was a little steep for Sammie.  Then they saw that they could buy a pair of goats for $170.

This felt like a great solution because goats provided through the Gift Catalog offer families a steady supply of nutritious food such as milk and cheese. They also yield additional income so parents can purchase more food for their families.

Sammie told her dad: “I can make more money than that.”

Her dad asked if she was sure, but Sammie was all in. She pulled out a jar and put all the money she had into it.

She started a list of fundraising ideas she could try over the summer, which included walking neighbors’ dogs and cleaning houses. But she quickly realized that earnings from those jobs would take a while to add up.

Then she hit upon the idea of a lemonade and cookie stand, which felt like a winner because, as Sammie puts it, “You need cookies and lemonade on summer days.”

Kristina saw the learning and growth potential in Sammie’s project. “It’s a great opportunity to encourage kids to do something that seems monumental,” she says. And besides that, she adds: “Anyone can make lemonade and cookies to sell.”

A family affair

Close-up of a frosted cookie shaped like a goat’s head, decorated with piping details including a heart-shaped nose.
Sammie sold goat cookies in her fundraiser that she decorated with her mom and sister. (2022 photo courtesy of Kristina LeViere)

Kristina and Nick wanted Sammie to know that she could make a difference. The fundraiser became a family affair. Sammie, her younger sister, Madison, and Kristina worked together over several days baking, decorating, and packaging up goat-shaped cookies.

Then her aunt made the sign for the stand and quickly followed up with t-shirts for Sammie and Madison that read “Just a kid trying to buy a goat” and featured a picture of a little goat.

“It just felt like joy,” says Sammie. “Doing it with family reminds me of how happy the other people would be when they get to keep their family healthy and safe when they get this milk.”

Sammie’s first lemonade stand went up at the family’s church. The church body showed amazing support for Sammie’s efforts. Everyone bought some lemonade or a cookie or just made donations. Sammie earned enough that day to buy six goats.

The next lemonade event came in July when the family visited a Christian camp in Pennsylvania that Sammie’s grandparents regularly attend. Again, Sammie felt overwhelmed by the support she received — raising money to buy four more goats.

Sammie hopes that those 10 goats can make a big difference in the life of a child and their family. She sends a message to the people who will receive goats through World Vision’s Gift Catalog: “I want them to know that our family loves them and cares for them even though we don’t know who they are. We just wish … that they could feel more happy and more safe.”

Walking in faith

A girl sits behind a table with goat-shaped cookies, lemons, red cups, lemonade, and information about goats.
Sammie is all smiles at her lemonade and cookie stand, which she created as a fundraiser so she could purchase World Vision Gift Catalog goats for families in need. (©2022 photo courtesy of Kristina LeViere)

A powerful faith drives the family’s actions. Kristina hopes that this experience encourages Sammie to continue to serve others as she grows in her beliefs.

Kristina also believes that supporting children’s desire to serve is a good learning experience for parents as well. “[We] often shut kids down and say you’re too young and little.” But she and Nick see that wasn’t the case for Sammie.

And Sammie herself offers that same advice for anyone thinking of organizing their own fundraiser. “I would say no way, you’re not too young,” she says. “There’s not an age limit on this.”

She just encourages people to follow their hearts and know the impact they’re capable of making. “I would say, hey you’re gonna help a lot of people. You’re just bringing joy to the world and making this a better place for people to grow and be strong.”

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