Big hearted youngsters provide huge inspiration

  • Aug. 24, 2010 3:04 p.m.

Often as a reporter and an observer of life, a person can tend to get a bit bogged down with the constant flow of negativity that seems to surround us. There is always plenty of bad stuff to talk about, to read about and hear about.

There’s always much to concern ourselves with, from natural disasters and global horror stories of poverty and devastation to celebrity meltdowns to sordid behaviour on the part of certain politicians.

Sure there are the good news stories, but they seem few and far between amidst the world’s turmoil which is typically deemed more newsworthy.

Well, I had the privilege recently of interviewing two young girls who are serious about making a big difference in other people’s lives. Both chats were a breath of fresh air to me both as a reporter and a citizen, and proved that there is much to celebrate and be thankful for when we know there are caring, sensitive hearts wanting to help others. It’s all the more inspiring considering these girls know the importance of helping others at such a young age.

It’s a pattern of caring that’s already part of their respective natures.

First, there’s Natasha Walz of Red Deer. Natasha, who is 12, has been concerned over the financial problems facing the Learning Disabilities Association of Alberta lately. She’s received significant help from them over the past several months, and when she saw they were struggling, she wanted to help.

This past June, her folks bought her tickets to pop superstar Justin Bieber’s September concert in Edmonton. Now, if you are unfamiliar with Justin Bieber, suffice it to say that there are millions upon millions of girls around the world clamouring to see this talented 16-year-old Canadian artist in person, much less see him perform in concert.

Even though she’s a huge Bieber fan, Natasha decided that she would give up her tickets and make them available for the public to bid on, all in an effort to raise money for the LDAA. When I talked to her about this, I detected not a hint of regret about her decision.

She was all smiles, and just wanted to do her part. It was as simple as that. What a great example for all of us! Natasha is a reminder that everyone can do something, and as a follow-up to her story, more than $1,000 was ultimately raised via the tickets.

Happily, the anonymous group that bid on them wanted her to see Bieber after all, so she’s certainly being rewarded for her generosity and thoughtfulness.

The same day I talked with Natasha I also headed out to Lacombe to visit seven-year-old Kalista Ziakris. Her thoughtfulness was apparent right off the bat. Polite and sweet, she immediately asked me if I would like a glass of water.

I was struck by her confidence already so evident at such a young age. She sat herself down and promptly got to work explaining in detail to me her project which had unfolded a few weeks earlier.

With some family help, Kalista baked a whole bunch of tasty cupcakes, sold them at her school’s garage sale and raised $600 for the purchase of canes for children at the Kabul Blind School in Afghanistan.

She was so excited to talk about the project, and it was obvious that she’s already learned the joyful secret of giving and even thinking globally in terms of helping out.

Nothing even comes close to the satisfaction and blessing a person feels when giving back, and as for Kalista, it seems she’s always looking for ways to reach out.

Last year, she also organized a project in tandem with Eric Rajah, founder of the Lacombe-based humanitarian organization A Better World to buy shoes for children in Kenya for Christmas.

I also asked her if she had a desire to journey overseas herself one day, and perhaps see firsthand some projects taking place in developing nations.

Without a pause, she told me she’s likely to visit Kenya next year.

Why does she do it? It’s simple. Kalista sees a need and wants to help ease the burden.

I asked her what keeps her excited about helping others, and she said that we Canadians have a better place than those living in poverty-stricken part of the world do.

“They need to have a place like we have.”

That should of course stir us all up to help out, and there are plenty of ways to do so.

The most important thing is taking that first step.

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