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Dale Swigert is only 7-years-old, but he already has the desire to help others.
Swigert, who will be in second grade next year at Wright Elementary School, has been hard at work for the past six months raising money to feed hungry children in Ethiopia.
He does it by selling bracelets made of rubber bands that he makes himself, said his father, Mike Swigert.
“I don’t know whether he put them [bracelets] together at school or not, but I came home one day and there were all these rubber bands on the table and he was putting them together,” he said.
“They’re stretchy, and you can get any color, red, yellow, blue,” said Dale Swigert, who added that he also decorates them with different patterns.
So far, the boy has raised around $500, said his mother, Tammy Swigert.
A home heath nurse, Tammy Swigert said that her son got the idea to help raise money for the children from her involvement with Moringa for Many, a nonprofit company in Lexington established in 2012 by Jessica Phillips.
The company’s mission is to physically and spiritually nourish vulnerable children in developing countries by combating malnutrition through the use of a botanical product called Moringa Oleifera and also by providing nourishing meals.
Phillips was unavailable for comment.
Tammy Swigert, the company’s Kids 4 Kids director, said her son saw a photo of other children participating in the program and became very interested.
“He said, ‘Mom, I want to do that,’ so he did,” she said. “He’s raised close to five hundred dollars right now.”
Tammy Swigert said her son sells the bracelets to everyone.
“Family, friends, just anybody that wants to help him out. He hasn’t set a price, he’s just taking donations; he gets anything from a dollar to twenty dollars,” she said.
Also as part of the program, Dale Swigert has made a new ‘friend’ in Ethiopia, his mother said.
“He’s sponsoring a child over there, and he writes back and forth to him, and he really enjoys it,” she said. “What we do, we’re trying to get into the community, and hook them [kids] up with these children over there, and they can pen pal with them and they can raise money in their own way. When she [Jessica Phillips] goes [to Ethiopia] she will take photographs of whatever they purchased to bring back to the children so they will have a visual of ‘Oh, this is what our money is doing.’ She’s got kids anywhere from toddlers to teenagers that she feeds everyday. He [Dale] enjoys sitting and looking through all the stuff and helping me with the program as well.”
Said Dale Swigert: “It’s going great; I just wanted to do it to help people.”
When asked about his pen pal, he said, “He’s a boy; he’s eleven. His name is Abrahm. He lives in Ethiopia.”
He sent Abrahm a T-Shirt that he decorated with the words ‘Jesus Loves Me,’ said Tammy Swigert.
She said when her son approached her about becoming involved in the fundraising, she was very proud of him.
“It just made me smile, it just warmed my heart,” she said. “He’s a great kid; he’s always willing to help everybody else.”
Mike Swigert agreed.
“He’s taken this thing and spearheaded it, and he enjoys making these bracelets, and he enjoys helping the kids over there, and I think it’s a great thing he’s doing.”
Dale Swigert’s church family is also behind him, said Jay Tigner, pastor of Finchville Baptist Church.
“A lot of people here have been purchasing the bracelets and supporting Dale in his efforts to feed the children,” he said. “We’re looking at possibly [donating] our vacation bible school offerings that children give that week [coming up in July] to go to support his efforts as well.”
To purchase a bracelet from Dale Swigert, contact his mother at firstname.lastname@example.org.