A fantastic fundraiser: Toys for You

When 10-year-old Olivia Wedlake gets home from school, she’s not sitting down with video games or wasting hours on YouTube.

She is eager to jump onto Facebook – but not for the reasons you’d think.

Olivia is spending her spare time crafting, creating, and marketing a business venture called Toys for You, raising money to help bring toys to kids in Ethiopia.

Last year Olivia launched her campaign sewing custom hand warmers, warming eye pillows and warming neck pillows, and has since raised hundreds of dollars!

Olivia Wedlake, 10, is sewing hand warmers, eye pillows and warming neck pillows to raise money for toys for children in Ethiopia!

Olivia Wedlake, 10, is sewing hand warmers, eye pillows and warming neck pillows to raise money for toys for children in Ethiopia!

Her goal? To help children who don’t have the same advantages she does.

“It makes me feel happy because I'm helping others, but it makes me feel sad because people in Ethiopia have to work hard just to eat,” Olivia said when asked about the project.

Olivia’s mom Lisa is a key force behind the annual Mini Gems & Java fundraiser in London, which raises money for Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia. Her volunteer work opened Olivia’s eyes to the realities in developing countries.

“When I volunteered at the Mini Gems & Java event I learned they don’t have a lot. I know the money from Mini Gems & Java goes to helping other things, so I wanted to start my own fundraiser to help them have toys, too.”

The 10-year-old had a little bit of experience with grassroots efforts, making sweet treats as a way to raise money for charity through her summer camp the past two years.

It’s hard work making all those hand-sewn products - Olivia has enlisted her mom, aunt and nana for support - but she is one dedicated seamstress. Olivia originally thought about selling her hand warmers, eye pillows and hot packs at school, but was rebuffed because of school board rules.

She didn’t let that challenge deter her, though - Olivia told us it was “nothing compared to what the kids in Ethiopia have to face” - and the Wedlakes came up with another solution.

“My mom and I decided to start a Facebook Page to show and sell my items,” she said. Olivia uses that page, @ToysforYouLondon, to showcase her products and take orders. Everyday she checks the page after school to see if there are any other comments requesting a hand warming, eye or neck pillow.

She edits a photo album of products after an order is made to display to customers which items are still available.

Though the entrepreneurial life at just 10 years old can be tough, Olivia says it’s worth it.

“It is also fun. I enjoy it!”

We’re so grateful for the next generation of change makers, both here and in Ethiopia, who want to share their good fortune! Thank you so much Olivia for your generosity and your hard work!