Student with a heart
Skyler Ferguson-Bain is as shy as they come for a nine-year-old girl, but her big heart more than makes up for her shyness. The nine-year-old Bishop Michael Eldon School student has to date raised $2,100 in just three weeks for the Grand Bahama Children’s Home, by selling “Angels of Hope” Christmas tree tags, and “Candle of Hope” Bahamian-made candles.
It all started when Skyler’s mom, Stephanie Ferguson, was showing her daughter something on her Facebook page when Skyler noticed a Furniture Plus “Charity of Hope” campaign, which since 2005 has contributed thousands of dollars to worthy causes at Christmas through sales of the Christmas tree tags and candles.
An ‘angel’ is sold for the donation of $1, with proceeds benefitting children’s causes in three island communities, where the furniture store has a presence. In New Providence, funds go to Hands for Hunger; in Grand Bahama to the Grand Bahama Children’s Home, and to the Every Child Counts School in Abaco.
Skyler read the information on the page and asked her mother what the Children’s Home was.
“I explained to her what a children’s home is, and basically that it is a home for children who do not have a family who wanted them, and had no one to take care of them, so they would go there and the people would take care of them. I was telling her [Skyler] this to make her feel fortunate that she had people who loved her and took care of her. “
Skyler then wanted to know what the “Angels of Hope” were.
“I told her they were called ‘Angels of Hope” and that they were basically sold for donations of $1, and that Furniture Plus matched each dollar raised and gave a donation to the (Grand Bahama) Children’s Home to help with expenses for the children.”
After hearing that Skyler wanted to know if she could sell angels as well to help out. Her mother told her they could contact Scott Ferguson at Furniture Plus and ask. Ferguson told them “no problem.”
Skyler and her mom then approached her school (the Bishop Michael Eldon School) and spoke to Vice-Principal Tanya Wildgoose about selling angels at school to parents dropping off their children. Skyler got the go-ahead from her school as well, because community service from students is encouraged. With all of her “ducks lined up”, Skyler began selling angels the next day at school, and in the afternoons at the different grocery stores.
Her mother put her initiative on her Facebook to inform her friends of what Skyler was doing if they saw her, and to ask her about it, and support her. From that posting, Skyler received individual pledges for $1,000 and $500, which have made up more than half her total amount raised to date. The Furniture Plus promotion ends at the end of December, but Skyler will sell through the end of the school term on December 16.
“I am very proud of her,” said her mom. “She’s doing a wonderful job. One of the things I like about what she’s doing is that it’s also giving her confidence. She’s been more outspoken, and been able to go up to people, and explain what it’s for, that it’s for the children’s home and that Furniture Plus matches it, and she’s gotten very good responses from people.”
This is the first time Skyler has done anything of this nature. And her mom says it’s really taken off with her, as Skyler now wants to get her class involved in a toy drive to benefit the children at the Home. Her mom helped her write a letter that Skyler presented to her teacher. She hopes the class will respond to it favorably.
“I really want to help the kids,” said Skyler who said it makes her feel good to be able to help her peers. She says most people say she’s doing a great job.
Her mother says Skyler also now wants to meet the children.
Bishop Michael Eldon School president Anita Daugherty says the initiative by the primary school student speaks to the fact that they are big on character building and character education at the institution. Students at the school are given weekly words like responsibility, respect, attitude, empathy, integrity, perseverance, fairness and gratitude. Whatever the weekly word, students from kindergarten through twelfth grade use the school assembly to depict the word and show fellow students what they should be doing.
Principal Daugherty says Skyler is exhibiting both generosity and responsibility with her initiative.
“Generosity is a word Skyler would have heard in primary school, and obviously it leads to responsibility because we are responsible for being our brother’s keepers,” said Daugherty. She hopes other students will use the words to do something good in the community.