Many who are 6 years old and a kindergartner likely dream of going to Disneyland, ride all the cool rides and have your picture taken with the Disney characters. To go, they try to save all of your pennies, dimes and quarters.
Eden Hillyer from Stirling, Alberta, Canada, is one of the young girls with the Disneyland dream. But something happened along the way that changed her mind.
Eden’s mother, Marianne, a single mother, had been very sick and spent several days in the hospital and then another week at her parents’ home. Finally, it was time to go home. They didn’t arrive until around 11 p.m., and they were all very hungry. Eden and her 4-year-old sister, Grace, began to scavenge through the cupboards, but they could find only white bread to make sandwiches. Eden’s favorite bread, “seedy bread,” a multi-grained bread made by a neighbor, was not found anywhere in the house.
Eden and her little sister started complaining about not having any seedy bread and why did they have just white bread to eat. Marianne then said to the girls: “That’s all we have. You know, there are lots of children throughout the world who don’t have anything to eat.”
When Eden heard that, she stopped her complaining for a moment and asked, almost incredulously, “Really?” Then Marianne explained to the children about Louise ZoBell’s activities in the Dominican Republic and how she had been helping feed the children there.
After listening wide-eyed, Eden said, “We need to help those kids.” She immediately rushed into her room, brought out her jar of coins, looked her mother in the eye, and said, “Let’s give this money to help feed the kids.” The jar of money was Eden’s Disneyland money.
The next day at their Stirling 1st Ward, Lethbridge Canada East Stake, meetings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Eden, Grace and their mother met Louise ZoBell and told her what Eden wanted to do with the jar of money she had been saving for a trip to Disneyland. ZoBell invited them over to her home.
Eden and her family went to Louise and Jack ZoBell’s home after church. There, she offered her jar of coins to the ZoBells' Dominican Starfish Foundation, whose mission "is to help those who suffer poverty in the Dominican Republic by assisting with clothing, food, school supplies and hygiene kits. By involving local citizens in our humanitarian efforts we are helping empower them to create a better future for people in their country .”
Louise ZoBell later wrote on her Facebook page , “Today I had an amazing thing happen. A little 6-year-old girl, Eden Hillyer, came to me after church and said that she wanted to donate all the money that she has saved for over a year to go to Disneyland some day. It was so touching. I didn't want a 6-year-old to see me cry. She came over this afternoon and handed over her jar of over $50 she had collected!”
Ironically, this wasn’t the first time Eden had been generous with her belongings. When she was 5 years old, she donated 10 inches of her hair to Locks of Love. Recently, she donated most of her toys, clothes and shoes to the Diabetes Association because she really didn’t need all those things.
Eden’s philosophy is, “Instead of one person having lots of stuff, everyone should have something instead of one person having everything.” Plus, when she is offered either a big treat or two small ones, she always chooses two treats so she can give one of them to her sister.
Marianne has taught her daughters it is important to work and to share.
“I just told them we aren't afraid of hard work. And that right is right. She wants to raise a village. I figure it takes a village to raise a child, so why can't a child help a village? All things are possible because we have nothing although we still have enough to live and nothing extra.”
The ZoBells were so touched by Eden’s generosity that they will create a new division of the Dominican Starfish Foundation called "Eden's Magic Pennies.” The ZoBells are helping Eden enhance her gift to the Dominican children. They recently posted this message on their Facebook page on May 13:
“HELP EDEN'S CAUSE AND YOU COULD COME TO THE DOMINICAN, TOO! The first 20 people who match Eden's donation of $50 will have their names put in a draw for a week's free accommodations at our villa . AND SHE IS 6-YEARS-OLD!! This is what she wants to do with the money—build some new bathrooms for Maggiolo (in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic).
When Eden saw the bathroom pictures in Maggiolo, she said, “We have to keep going.”
In just 24 hours, Eden’s $50 donation stands at more than $600 and climbing.
On the way home from the ZoBells' house, Marianne asked Eden how she felt. She said, “I feel like Jesus is giving me a big hug.”
Eden may be only 6 years old, but she has caught the vision of giving. Her goal now is to “go to the Dominican Republic to feed the kids.”
For more about Louise and Jack ZoBell’s Starfish Foundation, go to www.dominicanstarfish.org.
An Idahoan, Darrel Hammon likes being outdoors, growing things and seeing things the way they could be. He blogs at www.darrelhammon.blogspot.com. He and his wife recently served a mission in the Caribbean Area Welfare Office.