By Gary Boskovich
How does an 11-year-old Carmel girl bring joy to children 1,700 miles away? She does it by making colorful bracelets and seeing that they are delivered to the underprivileged children – many of them orphaned and living in tent cities – throughout the nation of Haiti.
In January 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake devastated that small Caribbean nation, and many in the country are still struggling to regain their footing.
And after Richard and Jan Lautzenheiser traveled to Haiti on a medical mission trip, their granddaughter Celia Simmonds became captivated with the pictures and stories they brought back of the impoverished children there.
Celia, a fifth-grader at Mohawk Trails Elementary, wanted to help.
So now she spends much of her free time creating rainbow-colored bracelets for the boys and girls there.
“I started making some and I had about 50 and … I just kept making more and more with the help of my friends and my brother and sisters,” she said.
So far she has made more than 200 rubber-band bracelets.
She hands the bracelets over to her grandparents and other individuals who volunteer their time assisting the people of Haiti. They distribute the bracelets in medical clinics and villages wherever groups of children gather.
“I know every year (my grandparents) take something to the patients like candy, and I wanted to do something different this year,” Celia said.
Although Celia doesn’t know any of the Haitian children personally, she still feels connected to them. When her grandparents share stories from Haiti, they say the kids loved the bracelets and were quite excited when they got them.
Celia badly wants to travel to Haiti herself one day – but that might have to wait a few more years. In the meantime she will continue making bracelets and having them delivered whenever possible.
She knows that her work brings smiles to the Haitian children at a time when they might have few reasons to smile. And they wear the bracelets proudly, allowing the kids to feel good about themselves.
The goodwill from Celia’s bracelets is a two-way street.
Celia said, “It just makes me really happy that I can do something good for other people who don’t really have much, and they don’t have all the stuff we have here. It just makes me feel really good.”