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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


March 9, 2002 - Issue 56


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Showing Other Kids How to Take Heart

credits: Photo by Michael O'Leary / The Herald
Loreal JackTULALIP, WA - Loreal Jack nibbled on a chocolate bar in between talking about her newest adventure.

The 13-year-old Tulalip Tribes member is a kid at heart, but often puts her energy into more adult things, such as her recent venture in starting her own nonprofit organization.

"I talk on the phone until my mom tells me to get off," the Marsyville Middle School student said, shrugging her shoulders and revealing a big grin.

She loves pizza and Top Ramen. But she's one of few kids around who has sought an official means of raising money for less fortunate families. Her main mission? To buy sneakers for kids who need them and assist families in need.

So far, her organization, Outstretched Hands Foundation, has raised about $1,500. She has teamed with Marysville school officials who will evaluate a need in their classrooms and let Loreal know how many shoes are needed. She chose buying new shoes instead of other types of charity work because she has seen what happens when kids go without.

"I've seen kids at school who don't have good shoes," Loreal said. "People pick on them and say they look weird."

Loreal's mother, Rose Iukes, said she noticed her daughter's outpouring of compassion a few years ago when her youngest son was hospitalized in Seattle for about two months. "We didn't have Thanksgiving that year, and she had tears in her eyes and asked how many families go without it every year," Iukes said.

That was the first time Loreal collected cans and newspapers to earn money to help others in need. That later led to babysitting jobs and more can and newspaper collecting, Loreal said.

Since then, she has put together food baskets during the holidays, and even bought a coat for a girl who didn't have one.

But for Loreal, that wasn't enough. She wanted to do more. That's when she applied for nonprofit status and decided to form the foundation, which the state approved about three weeks ago.

Ray Moses, a tribal elder and cultural historian, said Indian custom has been to teach children about giving.

"Nowadays things have changed," he said. "We're more in the fast lane. What's she's doing is very important. To be a good leader, you have to be a humanitarian."

Loreal said her grandfather, Arthur "Hank" Williams, taught her a good lesson.

"Charity starts in your home, and the Tulalip community is my home," she said.

Loreal has told some classmates about her plans.

"They think it's cool, but they realize how much work I have to put into it," Loreal said.

She's always coming up with new ideas, and often sells homemade banana bread to customers buying Fourth of July fireworks at Boom City.

One recent day, Loreal used her cell phone from school to tell her mom she had just come up with a great fund-raising idea -- hoop shoot. Participants will gather pledges and donations for free throws made during a specific time period. Plans were soon under way for the Saturday event. So far, about 20 people have signed up, but Loreal said there's room for more. Participants get a free spaghetti meal, and spectators can buy a meal for $4. Proceeds go to the foundation.

"I'm very proud of her, because it was her idea and she had the heart for it, and she just drafted us into it," said Geraldine Williams, Loreal's grandmother and adviser.

In coming weeks, Loreal hopes to go shopping for shoes -- lots of them. She imagines she will have a shopping cart full of shoes.

Loreal's quest gives others hope.

"It renews our faith in our community and culture," said Christine Henry, Tulalip Tribes chief executive officer. "I raise my hands up to her and her family."

Tribal Chairman Herm Williams said tribal leaders are proud of Loreal.

"It's nice to see a young person with a big heart," he said. "She was brought up in traditional culture, and she exudes that. She wants to help so many people."

"I think she stands out, but I hope that other young people are watching and pick up from it," Williams said.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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