12-year-old gives her time and money

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At 12 years old, Elena Everson isn’t Acacia Global’s youngest supporter, but she certainly is one of our most enthusiastic volunteers and fundraisers. We talked with Elena and her mom, Susan, recently in their lovely St. Paul home. We wanted to know what motivates a seventh-grader like Elena to get so involved in nonprofits like Acacia Global.

“First,” Elena said, “I’ve known Kevin my entire life.” (Kevin is Acacia Global’s board member, Kevin Winge.) “My mom introduced me to Kevin when he was at Open Arms and my mom and me would deliver meals. Then my mom told me more about Acacia Global and we went to a Christmas party and bought beaded trees and reindeer.”

“At the Christmas party I got my first change box and I went around my neighborhood. The first time I went to two neighbors and they gave me some change. This year I was feeling more adventurous and I went to everyone. I handed out copies of the Acacia Global information sheet that my mom printed for me. My neighbor Ruth gave me my first donation of a $20 bill, and Elizabeth gave me a big bag of dimes she was saving. Then we went to the gala and turned my change box in. It was more than $145!”

Guests at Acacia Global’s “A Night at a Shebeen” event will remember Elena. She volunteered at the silent auction table with her mom where, “We sold every single thing on the table.” Asked what made the silent auction such a success, Elena said, “If somebody upped someone else’s bid, I went and told the person who was outbid and then they would raise their bid. People were giving hundreds of dollars for things like wire bowls.”

Elena does more than just help out Acacia Global. Along with her mom, she continues to prepare and deliver meals for Open Arms clients who are critically ill.

“I really like delivering for Open Arms because the people who get the food are so happy to see you. And the kitchen is so fun because you can see the meals being made. It helps if you deliver before you volunteer in the kitchen. When you know the people you are delivering to, you put more love into the meals.”

Guests at Open Arms can see Elena’s name on their donor wall. At the age of five, Elena donated $2 to Open Arms’ $8.1 million capital campaign. It was one of the most special contributions that Open Arms received during its campaign.

When asked if Elena had any closing thoughts she offered this: “If you have the opportunity you should volunteer. Get out there. Even if you are shy, you have an opportunity to help people who need your help.

Susan Everson