Organizing beads by color in a deviled-egg tray, 7-year-old Olivia Heaston says she has fun choosing the different colors for her bracelets, but keeps in mind why she is making them.
Olivia’s parents are in the process of adopting two children from Bulgarian orphanages. In May, she came up with the idea to sell bracelets to raise money to help pay for the adoptions.
“We first pulled out beads and then I said maybe I could make bracelets and get money,” Olivia said. “Then we had the idea to make them because they’re in a very bad orphanage because people don’t take care of them.”
So far, Olivia’s bracelets have raised more than $2,000, part of the $10,000 the family has raised. The cost of the adoptions is $30,000.
Selling bracelets was just one strategy on Olivia’s list of fundraising ideas. Others included a lemonade stand, garage sale and the family spending a summer scooping dog poop.
But her bracelets have been the most successful, selling for $5 apiece.
“You wear them and then say, ‘Look what I got from a little girl named Olivia. She made this,’ ” Olivia said.
“With beads, there’s kind of something you get to have and show them to other people… so we can get more money for Sam and Sophie.” Sam and Sophie are the children the Heastons are trying to adopt.
Sam is 6 years old and living in a privately owned Bulgarian orphanage where he is fed once a day and given little care on the weekends. He is 22 pounds and has a genetic disease that causes parts of the body to grow at different speeds.
Lauren Heaston, Olivia’s mother, said a doctor in California has offered to look at Sam. She said the doctor was astounded that Sam has lived as long as he has without medical help.
“He’s a real fighter,” Lauren Heaston said. “I feel like we could really be a good support for him, of pointing him to something greater and using it not as somewhere to hide behind … but as a positive thing that you have been given.”
Sophie, 2, is living in a different orphanage. She has severe scoliosis and spina bifida. Lauren Heaston said she had scoliosis when she was young, and that is part of the reason she feels such a connection to Sam and Sophia.
Lauren Heaston said she and her husband, Rich, have wanted more children since their 5-year-old son, Jack, was born. The adoption paperwork has been sent to Bulgaria and the family is waiting for approval to go meet the children. That will be followed by a second trip to finalize the adoption and bring them home, possibly in March.
In the meantime, Olivia continues to sell her bracelets and awaits getting a new brother and sister to play with.
“Just getting the family completed, it hasn’t felt completed at this point,” Lauren Heaston said.
“Their bedrooms will be full. The cars are going to be full. Our hearts are going to be full. It’s going to be nice to have it complete.”