When students at Eisenhower Elementary School in Flint, Mich. return after the holiday weekend every classroom will have a brand new hand sanitizer dispenser, plenty of refills and disinfectant wipes.
And for that they can thank a second-grader from Gainesville, Va.
It was over dinner last week when Isiah Britt’s parents first told him about the Flint lead water crisis. As the news blared in another room, they explained to their son how the the kids were getting sick from the contaminated water, which they could no longer drink. Seven-year-old Isiah was moved and informed his parents that he wanted to help.
The family settled on sending bottled water to an elementary school. But when they called Eisenhower, the school’s secretary Lisa Palermo told them what they really needed was hand sanitizer because the kids were afraid to use the tap water to wash their hands.
Then Isiah got on the phone himself. He wanted to know how many classrooms (16) and how many students (370). He told Palermo he was going to raise enough money to send her what she needed.
On Friday, the cases of sanitizer arrived as promised.
“His voice, his demeanor, everything about him touched my heart,” Palermo said. “I’ve worked with the district over 20 years and I’ve never, the words don’t explain it, he touched my heart to no end.”
At his home Friday after school, Isiah bounded down the stairs from his bedroom. He wore a dapper collared sweater, but on his feet he wore socks with pizzas on them –part little man, part little kid. There’s a maturity and a confidence beyond his years, yet also a playful innocence.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re small, you can do something big,” said Isiah, whose story appeared first on Fox5 DC.
His parents, Kensley Dougan, 32, and Danielle Britt, 29, helped him determine that he’d need $500 to send a dispenser for every classroom to Eisenhower. His dad made him sit down and write a mission statement. His mom set up a GoFundMe page.
In less than two days they had raised their $500. Dougan has a video of when Isiah found out they’d already raised the money. He shimmied his shoulders and did a sort-of forward moonwalk dance. Since then they’ve contacted two more elementary schools in Flint to do the same for them.
His goal is to continue collecting donations in $500 increments and send his hand sanitizer packages to schools across Flint. So far he has raised $1,850.
Moreover, Dougan called Purell, which agreed to match Isiah’s donations, sending liter bottles for each classroom and mini-bottles for kids to carry with them in their backpacks.
His mom said Isiah has always showed empathy for others. But he’s being raised in an affluent area, and she said it’s been important to teach him about people who are less fortunate.
“Our whole thing was we wanted to support him –that mom and dad are here to guide you in the right direction,” she said. “And honestly it’s awareness, especially in this area, the kids might not see in their day-to-day lives people that need help…for him to be aware that you’re very blessed and privileged and it’s good to put those resources toward a good cause.”
Palermo said its been heartbreaking to see the Flint students living every day without access to clean water. The school’s drinking fountains are shut off. There are truck loads full of bottled water in the city. The school district has a warehouse filled with a million bottles, she said.
But what Isiah has done meets a real need.
“You get a lot of adults and a lot of people to donate and it’s a blessing from everyone who has helped in Flint,” she said. “When you talk to a seven-year-old little boy and he started a whole program for kids his age… it gives you a warm feeling in your heart.”
She said that when she saw a photo of Isiah, with his wide, toothy grin, and brown doe eyes, and thought about “the lives he’s touched and the kids he’s helped” she started to cry.
When the Eisenhower kids return to school next week, she’s going to have a display up about Isiah’s fundraiser. At Isiah’s elementary school, Buckland Mills, he made a morning announcement about it. A teacher affectionately called him the “famous one.”
When Isiah isn’t saving the world, he’s practicing for his future as a professional soccer player.
“I was so excited for what I’d done to try and make the world a better place,” he said. “I know it can be a better place.”
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