Jacob Van, 13, of Beaverton, Oregon, a seventh-grader at International School of Beaverton, raised money to help a local woman and boy pay for cancer treatments, and to provide hundreds of Christmas presents for people experiencing homelessness in downtown Portland. Jacob is motivated, he says, simply by “my desire to help out the less fortunate. Every time I volunteer, I get a good feeling.” Last August, Jacob hosted a gala dinner and silent auction that raised more than $16,000 for a woman who had lost her insurance but needed surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer. He wrote letters and handed out fliers to promote his event, persuaded local businesses to donate flowers and auction items, recruited entertainers to perform, sold tickets, and gave a speech in front of 300 attendees.
Less than two weeks later, Jacob set up a cookie and lemonade stand at his parent’s workplace at lunchtime to help a boy named Wyatt with a rare type of cancer. “All he wanted was to get mail from people to brighten up his day,” said Jacob. So, in addition to selling his refreshments and accepting donations for the boy, Jacob asked customers to convey their best wishes to Wyatt on hundreds of cards he had purchased. Jacob also has used funds from his cookie and lemonade stand – plus allowance money – to buy hundreds of winter accessories for homeless people at Christmastime. “I wanted to share my love, care and compassion for others in need,” he explained.