After hearing about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., a third grader at Tega Cay Elementary School decided she wants to make a difference.
Isabelle “Izzy” Byerly, 8, is spreading a message of kindness one T-shirt at a time. It all started with a few drawings – stick figures, rainbows and colorful creatures. Then she added words such as “choose kind,” “be a rainbow” and “have courage, be kind.”
Because her mom, Marielle Byerly, is trained in making T-shirts, she happened to have a heat press on hand.
“We put the picture on a transfer paper and then we put the transfer paper on the shirt and then we used the heat press to get the picture onto the shirt,” Izzy said. “Once we put a message of kindness on the shirts, a lot of people liked them. Someone suggested that we do it as a fundraiser, so now we’re doing it as a fundraiser.”
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With the help of her parents, Izzy created a Facebook page for her cause and started selling the T-shirts for $14.50 each. Since the fundraiser began on March 5, Izzy’s T-shirts for Random Acts of Kindness has raised more than $600.
Izzy’s first donation was to the Humane Society of York County, an animal shelter in Fort Mill for canines and felines of all ages.
“We brought toys, food and cleaning supplies,” she said. “We chose the Humane Society because we really like dogs and our dog Winnie had just died so we did it in honor of him.”
Marielle said the word “proud” is definitely an understatement of how she feels. At 8-years-old, Izzy’s a bit small to use the heat press – but Marielle’s sure her industrious daughter would do it if she could because of how involved she is in every other aspect of the fundraiser.
“At this point, my husband and I want to do everything we can to support her in doing this. It just goes to show what a good human she is – she’s always just been a good, kind, easy-going kid,” Marielle said. “I think it’s just really special that she’s come up with this. And I think it’s even more special that people care, people want to hear it – it means something to them as well.”
Once the T-shirts are ready, Izzy and Marielle usually hand-deliver them because they realize that every dime they save on shipping costs is another dime toward their cause.
Izzy already has her next donation in mind. She wants to make a contribution to the Foundation for Fort Mill Schools, specifically to go toward the school district’s guidance programs.
“Guidance programs help kids with their mental health,” Izzy said. “And they try and help with how to solve bullying.”
Mother and daughter have both been busy, emailing and calling the foundation to figure out how to make the donation. Marielle hopes it comes together soon, but in the meantime, she knows Izzy is still accomplishing her mission – she’s reached more than 5,000 views on Facebook.
“I think the bigger impact of this has been her message,” Marielle said. “A lot of people have visited the Facebook page and I think that Izzy is definitely spreading her message.”
“A message of kindness,” Izzy added. “Because it makes people happy.”
For more information, visit facebook.com/Izzystshirtsforkindness/.
Stephanie Jadrnicek: firstname.lastname@example.org