Raising two daughters in the comforts
of an affluent neighborhood in S. Florida,
it was evident that my children were
being insulated from the needs of many
others in our own city (one of the poorest
large cities in the nation) and definitely
the rest of the world.

In spite of the fact that my husband and
I have always been interested in public
service and community outreach, we were
both guilty of over-indulging our daughters and not encouraging our elder daughter as much as we should about the harsh reality that many children in our community face on a daily basis.

Everything changed the day our elder daughter, Bella, had her fifth birthday party. The gifts were bountiful and Bella was over the moon with excitement. As she tore quickly tore through each gift, mom and dad had to scramble with their note taking for future thank you cards. In the midst of the chaos, we realized our little girl was “receiving” without the benefit of understanding the importance of “giving back”. In this moment, the concept for the Angel Share project was hatched.

We thought it would be great if we could come up with an idea to help others in need while teaching our daughter about the importance of generosity and empathy for those less fortunate. During the brainstorming process, Bella chimed in that she was ready to “help other kids.” So now, the family set out on the task of deciding how.

The initial challenge for us was to figure out how to actively engage our daughter in the process. We knew Bella had to give of herself, give something that was important to her to be sure she was truly invested in the project.
We decided that allowing Bella to give up some of her own toys, books and helping her to develop ways to earn money to give to others was the best approach for the Angel Share project. Everyone in the family was excited about Angel Share and Bella, the budding artist, got right down to business and decided she wanted to draw a picture to represent her project.

When I shared her idea with Bella’s preschool teachers at Concordia Lutheran School, the project got another jump-start. Concordia’s Principal decided she loved the concept of teaching 3 to 5-year-olds the value of generosity and would help to instill a charitable spirit in the children. She asked Bella and her family to launch the project as a student-driven, school wide effort to help kids and families in need.

As Angel Share’s first charity project, the team decided to collect used toys and books, as well as key food items in an effort to assist the families of RCMA, the Redlands Christian Migrant Association. RCMA is a non-profit organization chartered in 1965 providing childcare, education and support services to 6,000 children of migrant and poor rural families in 20 Florida counties. They serve children 6 weeks to 6 years old.

Volunteers kicked off Angel’s Share first project in April at Concordia Lutheran School and in no time, it was full steam ahead. The Angel Share kids, parents and teachers jumped in head first and immediately starting searching through their closets to collect more than 450 used toys and books in good condition and raised $400 at several successful bake sales. All of this happening in less than one month’s time!

On June 1st, 18 students in Bella’s preschool class traveled to a RCMA center in Homestead to learn more about the school and meet with the children served by RCMA and provide them with a “gift” of some of the donated items from the fundraising efforts. Before exchanging the donated items, the smiling children shared song and dance while the sound of laughter and new friendships filled the room.

The project was so successful with its first endeavor we have decided to create Angel Share, Inc. and continue our efforts at Concordia Lutheran School, as well as branch out to other preschools in the area. The Angel Share objective will remain the same: to teach children that through their hard work and generosity they are able to help others who are less fortunate.

Aimee Artiles, mother of Bella and Giavanna