MARINA — Classmates at Sara Dubois’ school, Marina Vista Elementary, brought dimes and nickels and gave them to her. They shook the coins out of their piggy banks and handed the change over to the soft-spoken 11-year-old with the long black hair.
Meantime, Sara was busy painting intriguingly-shaped rocks she’d collected, turning the cold gray of granite into decorative items. Then she sold the rocks for 50 cents or a dollar each. She made and sold rings, too, and bracelets out of colored rubber bands but only after class.
One dollar grew to ten which grew to $100 and then it was on to $300. Finally, Sara reached $500, and $500 is where Sara stopped.
Five hundred dollars had been her goal. Now she was there, “on the money,” as they say.
“Actually, it was $502.49,” Sara said.
Not a single cent was for her. She’d seen images of the needy and of people driven down and out by life’s harshness and it had registered with her. She decided to help by raising $500 – or rather $502.49 – and donating it.
Sara had seen the homeless and the people she wanted to help and she had gone to her mother to tell her what was thinking.
“I want to help others,” Sara told her mother, Diana Dubois. “I know that many people don’t have as much as I do.”
Her daughter’s observation was her daughter’s alone, Diana said, and hearing it surprised her. Normally, Sara was shy. She disliked having to walk to the front of her class and, with all eyes fixed on her, talk to fellow students. Yet, her self-made project to help the less fortunate would require that she do exactly that. She’d have to promote her fund-raising to make it work.
This all began around Thanksgiving. Sara wrote a flyer. In it, she explained what she was going to do. Rita Rush, Sara’s grandmother, encouraged her, too. Many children, after all, embark on such noble projects. Soon as the work required becomes evident, they waver and drop out, Rush said.
Sara presented her idea to her school principal, and the principal said, “Yes.”
Sara made presentations in front of three classes, too. Beside the colored rocks, the rings and bracelets made of colored rubber bands, she sold her stuffed animals, too. One boy, a second-grader, brought in a nickel to give to her. Then a dime.
“Sorry for the change, but you said every little bit helps,” the boy said.
Sara decided on helping Pueblo del Mar, which is run by Sun Street Centers. Pueblo del Mar “helps homeless families who have committed to alcohol and drug recovery with a variety of programs to include housing. The facility has 52, two-bedroom homes.
Recently, Sara and her mother and grandmother, came to the Nancy Dodd Community Center at Pueblo del Mar, which is run by Sun Street Centers.
Sara carried the tightly-sealed manila envelope containing the money to be handed over to Sheryl Merrill, Sun Street Centers development director.
Families arriving into Pueblo de Mar come with many needs, Merrill said. The money collected by Sara is not only appreciated but will be effectively applied, she told Sara.
“This money will go toward buying towels or sheets or clothing for babies,” Merrill said.
Martha Torres, 38, is staying at Pueblo del Mar with her three children. The $500 could also help pay for activities such as seasonal celebrations to include Easter egg hunts and Halloween decorations.
“I think that Sara is awesome, that she has the big heart at her age to make those bracelets and colored rocks and to sell them for the benefit of others,” Torres said.
Olivia Pasillas, 37, another Pueblo del Mar resident said, “I was amazed that this little girl had the heart to do this. It’s like, ‘Wow!’ That is so wonderful. That is real courage.’”
Monica Moreno, 27 and of Salinas, is a resident of Pueblo del Mar who found inspiration in Sara’s gift.
“Her example makes me real happy,” Moreno said. “It shows that people really care about us.”
For her efforts, Sara’s school bestowed upon her its “School Spirit” award. A moment before “Spirit Award” was mentioned, in fact, the name “Sara” could be heard being whispered through the assembly, because everyone knew what she had done and they appreciated it, too, Merrill said.
“This is the first time we’ve had a donor so young,” Merrill said. “It was the kids who made it happen. Not by going to adults. Once they knew what was needed, they made it real. To see it come from the heart no matter what the age. That’s what happened here.
“Sara’s donation represents philanthropy in its purest form.”