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State Honoree

Photo of State Honoree Autumn Bright

Autumn Bright

Portola Valley, California

Autumn Bright, 13, of Portola Valley, Calif., a seventh-grader at Corte Madera Elementary School, raised more than $23,000 last year to build an orphanage for 12 abandoned children in India, and to dig a freshwater well and purchase school supplies for the kids. During a family trip to India in 2016, Autumn was stunned by the poverty she saw there. “The most shocking part was that a large majority of those on the streets were children around my age and younger,” she said. “I realized how privileged we are in the United States.”

Upon returning home, Autumn researched aid organizations and learned that she could build her own orphanage through a charity called Angel House, but she’d have to raise $23,500 to do it. With help from some friends, she began baking cookies, dog treats and other food items, and selling them at a nearby park after school and in front of local grocery stores on weekends. She also became a certified babysitter and emailed town residents offering her services. In addition, she collected money by growing and selling plants, pet sitting, watering neighbors’ shrubs and flowers, and soliciting donations. “All of the money I raised will go toward building a 12-child Angel House and a freshwater well, as well as buying brand-new school shoes and fully stocked backpacks,” said Autumn. The orphanage, she said, “will provide the children with a safe home, healthy meals, a great education and so much love for years to come.”