Caroline Wells, 14, of Tyler, Texas, an eighth-grader at All Saints Episcopal School, has raised more than $40,000 for her local Salvation Army chapter by selling lemonade, ringing bells during the holidays, and organizing food and toy drives. When Caroline was in third grade, a fire destroyed a local Salvation Army storage building that contained Christmas presents for children. Her class stepped in to bring gifts there, and while touring the facility, they saw the rooms where families slept. “I asked my Mom, ‘When do they get to go home?’ and she said that this is their home for now,” Caroline said. “As an 8-year-old, it hit me hard. I knew then I needed to do what I could to make their lives better,” she said.
She started small, with a lemonade stand that raised $40, and then moved on to more ambitious projects. She worked with her art teacher to paint bookcases to benefit the St. Paul Children’s Foundation, collected 300 pairs of socks with the French club at her school, gathered emergency supplies after a tornado swept through her community, sold her own toys and clothes on eBay to raise money, and made YouTube videos to promote the Salvation Army’s work. She also organized a movie outing, and is planning a “princess party” for kids staying at the facility. As word of Caroline’s commitment spread, organizations such as DreamWorks Studios and the Dallas Cowboys made donations to Caroline’s local Salvation Army in her honor.