Michelle Starkes’ Central Florida living room is literally overrun with cases of diapers, baby wipes, rash cream, toothbrushes, coloring books, crayons and other items just waiting to be sent to children in The Bahamas who were affected by Hurricane Dorian in September.
Starkes had initially prepared for the storm in the event it hit Florida, but found herself offering comfort to friends from The Bahamas who had relatives and friends in the devastated islands of Abaco and Grand Bahama. And her seven-year-old daughter, Gabrielle, wanted to know what she could do to help children her age and younger.
Gabrielle wanted to do something special to help the children in need, and created a wish list on Amazon, Bahamas Relief-GO! Bubbles, and asked people to purchase hygiene items, activity workbooks and toys to donate to help reduce the stress on the children in the affected areas.
“The kids lost everything,” said Gabrielle. “I wanted to do something for the kids. When grown-ups donate supplies, sometimes they forget about the kids. It’s really sad. It was important for kids to have something just for them. If I was in The Bahamas and I lost everything, I hope someone would donate to me so I can have supplies. I wanted the kids to have the same thing I have. I have slime and coloring books so I wanted them to have it too.”
Gabrielle, a “kidpreneur” who creates hypoallergenic soaps with her GO! Bubbles Soap brand, on September 2 via social media, called for people to keep Bahamians in their prayers and well-wishes. A week after that initial post, she made another social media posting in which she said she told her parents she wanted to help the children, and sat down and wrote a list. Her mother helped her come up with an Amazon wish list, and Gabrielle encouraged people to go to her Facebook page and donate.
“I’m collecting supplies just for kids like diaper rash cream, baby wipes, kid toothbrushes, kid toothpaste, crayons, activity books and slime. What kid doesn’t like slime?” she asked excitedly. “I think kids need their own supplies, and the activity books and slime can keep them calm. Please donate today to help other kids from The Bahamas.”
She set a goal to collect over 700 children’s supplies. She received her first supplies on September 11; as of October 4, she had over 417 donated individual supplies.
“I just wanted to give you a huge, huge, huge, great thanks to you for caring for the kids in The Bahamas – thank you,” said Gabrielle.
Her mother said she is amazed to see the amount of people who contributed as well as her daughter’s passion to reach her goal.
“We’re extremely proud of Gabrielle,” said her mom. “She’s only seven-years-old but has a wise and kind spirit. Her dad and I try to teach her about empathy and having a concern for people who may not have what she has. When the storm ravaged The Bahamas, she immediately said she wanted to help the kids because she’s a kid. Oftentimes, young children are not allowed to volunteer at certain places due to their age, so they lose out on opportunities to serve others. We’re glad Gabrielle found a way to help the kids in The Bahamas,” said Starkes.