At age 10, Gwyneth Cartwright already had a desire to help other people – and she knew she could use her talents and creativity to raise money to do so.
In October 2011, the young member of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in St. Albans, W. Va., shared her story of making pop-tab bracelets to raise money for the United Methodist Committee on Relief. Gwyneth started thinking about ways to raise money after a church member asked for sponsors for a bike ride to benefit UMCOR.
"He asked everyone to search their hearts for a way we could help," she said. "I immediately knew I wanted to help, but I didn't know what I wanted to do.
"One day, it just hit me! I'd make the bracelets we had made at school as part of an Earth Day and recycling project. ... I made a few bracelets as samples, and I got up during announcements in Sunday worship and asked for pop tabs. After a little while, I had over four pounds of pop tabs and lots of people asking for bracelets."
In three months, Gwyneth raised more than $300 with the $2 bracelets constructed of pop tabs and various colors and types of ribbon. "One bracelet takes 10 to 15 minutes to complete," she said, "and they are fun to make."
It was not Gwyneth's first experience raising money to help those hurting. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the then 5-year-old opened a lemonade stand and raised $60. She also earned money for survivors of a tsunami and the 2010 earthquake in Japan.
"Homework and activities keep me busy," she said. "I'm unable to physically go and help people hit with disasters. However, I can spend a few minutes here and there to ... be there and be hope for families, perhaps a lot like mine, whose hope has been shattered."
Gwyneth is an example of the increasing number of children and youth who have learned they do not have to be adults to help those in need.
Among the more than 850 projects to support through The Advance are several that can have particular appeal to individuals, Sunday school or vacation Bible school classes and youth and fellowship groups. Children and youth can choose a project in a country or part of the world in which they have an interest. They might choose a project that serves children or youth or allows their peers to serve others.
African-American Methodist Heritage Center (Advance #3020514) recovers and preserves archives crucial to the history of African Americans in The United Methodist Church.
Christian Club for Youth (Advance #3020538) creates a club in Serbia where youth will meet non-Christians and talk about their faith in God.
Feed My Starving Children (Advance #171282) provides nutritious meals for children in 70 countries.
Fill the Ark: Heifer International (Advance #982418) provides animals to assist communities with ending hunger and poverty.
Haiti Hot Lunch Program (Advance #418790) provides hot meals three times a week to more than 22,000 students.
Nothing But Nets (Advance #982015) saves lives by using insecticide-treated bed nets to prevent malaria.
Souper Bowl of Caring (Advance #3020615) uses Super Bowl weekend to mobilize and inspire youth to fight hunger and poverty.
United Methodist Children's Fund for Christian Mission (Advance #3021113) educates children about mission and allows them to contribute to children's projects.
Children and youth might also contribute to the support of a missionary with a relationship to their congregation and, if possible, annual conference.
"Gwyneth's Story" adapted from a blog posting to UMCOR Notebook.