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Volunteering Isn't Just for Adults

Two local children prove that anyone can find a way to help those in need.

WHAT: Kids Serve

WEBSITE: http://kidsserve.com/

WHAT THEY'RE ALL ABOUT: Children are often touched by the tragedies they hear about in other parts of the world and they want to help. They also like to be able to help out friends in need. Often that means going to mom and dad and asking them to do something.

But some children come up with great ideas on their own or figure out a way to volunteer on their own.

For them there's an effort called kidserve.com, created by Jermiah Victor who wanted to make a difference after an earthquake in Haiti nearly two years ago.That effort has blossomed into a full-fledged fundraising effort that contributes to Feeding Empty Little Tummies to help feed homeless children in Manatee County, and he continues to raise money to help the children of Haiti.

He was just six years old at the time and asked his mom what he could do to help the children whose mothers and fathers were buried in the rubble.

Jenah Victor-Smith, a third generation Amway business owner, said her son wanted to send vitamins to the children so that they would be strong enough to sift through the rubble.

"It had just been a few days after the massive earthquakes," Victor-Smith said.  "I had no choice but to sit down and tell him the hard truth.  Those children had lost their mommies and daddies to heaven."

Still Jermiah was undeterred. He went to school and convinced his class, who was preparing to do a fundraising project for juvenile diabetes, to raise money instead for the children on Haiti so that his mom could send them vitamins.

His idea was to gather the change from their parents cars and couches and to raise money by doing extra chores. He also convinced his mom to buy 10 pairs of shoes, so that each child in his class could have one shoe to use to collect the change. Once the money was collected, the shoes would also go to children in Haiti.

In less than 6 weeks his class gathered nearly $500 in change. Victor-Smith, impressed with her son's efforts, had contacted other Amway business owners to collect donations and they hosted a go cart racing night to raise more money. They were able to gather more than $5,000 worth of vitamins and shoes to send to Haiti.

In October 2010,  Kids Serve helped sponsor the Sarasota Chalk Festival. Kids Serve sold fruit smoothies and lemonade with $2 of every glass going back to the Chalk festival in support of the programs they provide to the community.  Last year Kids Serve donated $10,000 to the festival.

February 13, 2011 he hosted a Tennis Serve-a-thon at the Anna Maria Island Community Center to raise more money.  In April 2011, we sent over 10,000 pounds of clothes and shoes and $2000 more in Nutrilite vitamins and soccer balls from Dicks Sporting Goods with a second mission team to the children of Haiti.

Last February he hosted a Tennis Serve-a-thon at the Anna Maria Island Community Center to raise more money.  In April, his family sent over 10,000 pounds of clothes and shoes and $2000 more in vitamins and soccer balls from Dicks Sporting Goods with a second mission team to the children of Haiti.

Now Jermiah is planning on going there in April on a mission trip, along with family and friend from Bradenton. Jermiah has also asked his three year old brother Nathanael to join him as a fellow philanthropist. 

Jermiah is currently training to run a mile with others on his Haiti team and his little brother Nathanael on Jan. 14 in Holmes Beach at the Dolphin Dash. He is hoping supporters will go to www.kidsserve.com to donate towards his trip to Haiti and for his project in Manatee County. 

After all of his focus on the children of Haiti, Jermiah overheard someone tell his mother that they should do something to help homeless and disenfranchised children here. He took the suggestion to heart and within the week began collecting socks and underwear for homeless children. He also collected food to donate to Feeding Empty Little Tummies

Mom couldn't be more proud. She said the philathropic spirit started with her grandfather when she was just a girl and he asked her how she would like to make a difference in the world. He asked her to think about where the family should donate and why.

She brought her children to various fundraisers and volunteer activites. She knows that legacy will continue with them as they become adults.

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