Jacob heard about the contest on Kids Place Live, a program on SiriusXM Radio. The channel
had joined with the Take Heart organization in Africa to dream up La La Love, a competition that asked kids to create a picture of their heart. The “HeartArt” would be posted online, and friends and relatives of the artist could donate money for kids in Kenya who need heart surgery. The artwork that raised the most money would win a prize.
Jacob said that he didn’t know a lot about Africa before the contest.
“I knew that Africa is a little bit less fortunate than here in the United States,” he said.
Jacob read stories online about kids that Take Heart had helped, and he started discussing the contest at the Sheridan School in Washington, where he’s a third-grader. He talked to a few teachers, who told the art teachers. They settled on making a mobile of hearts and got the entire school involved.
“Every single child was really into it,” said Emily Greene, one of Jacob’s art teachers. “We had kids stay in from recess to make a heart.”
In one week, students made 244 hearts, from which Jacob, his mom, Stefanie Stark, and his sister, Chloe, 5, created a 31
2-foot-tall mobile. The colorful hearts hang from ribbons; a jingle bell is attached to each string of hearts.
Jacob’s family sent photos of the mobile to La La Love. “We told all of our relatives,” Jacob said. “Lots of people put it on Facebook.”
The donations came from near and far: Sheridan families, an aunt in England, a former Sheridan teacher in Guam. And Jacob put in $20.
“I didn’t think I was going to raise that much,” he said. “Maybe $200 or $300.”
The donations climbed from the hundreds into the thousands, and a last-day surge pushed Jacob’s total to $5,520, which made him the top fundraiser. (Lauren Allen, 6, and her sister Erin, 4, of Alexandria won fourth place with $1,360 raised.) As a prize, Jacob’s school will get a concert from Kids Place Live’s Robbie Schaefer. Because the 275 art projects made by kids from across the United States raised more than $33,000, 13 children in Africa will receive heart surgery.
A contest inspired Jacob, but a series of books about kids in Africa and Central America has encouraged other Washington area students to help people in need overseas.
Author Katie Smith Milway wrote a book in 2008 called “One Hen,” a story of Kojo, a boy in the African country of Ghana who uses part of his mother’s loan from their fellow villagers to buy a hen.
The hen’s eggs provide food for the boy and his mother. Soon he has extra eggs to sell. Within a year, Kojo has 25 hens and has saved enough money to go to school. After he finishes college, Kojo uses his savings from the hens to buy a farm. The chickens produce lots of eggs, and the farm grows. What started as a few coins to buy one hen ends up creating jobs for people all over Ghana.