Eric Li, 14, of Manvel, Texas, an eighth-grader at Pearland Junior High West, founded a nonprofit organization with his siblings that has collected nearly $200,000 in cash and in-kind donations to help children around the world recover from major disasters. When Eric was 7, an earthquake in Sichuan, China, killed nearly 90,000 people. "I was very sad, and felt that I had to help the kids there," he said. He gathered all of his savings $94.87 and asked everyone in his school to help him collect more money for the victims. In three months, Eric was able to send more than $4,500 to the Red Cross for disaster relief in Sichuan, and then visited China to deliver $1,500 more.
That experience made Eric realize that there are lots of people around the world who need help. He and his siblings formed a nonprofit charity that has since organized more than 400 activities that have either raised money or collected needed items for young victims of 10 disasters. When Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Eric and his fellow volunteers persuaded young people and adults in 16 countries to send over 5,000 letters to children who suffered from the disaster. In November 2013, Eric led an effort to ship 4,210 items of clothing and other supplies to the Philippines in the aftermath of a devastating typhoon. Currently, Eric also is teaching local students to refurbish computers, which are then sent to orphanages in third-world countries.