Skyla Campbell lights up when she talks about the children in other countries who have T-shirts, soccer balls or crayons thanks to her.
How to help
Here are ways to help Skyla Campbell with her global outreach initiative:
Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org to make a donation of goods or to donate money to cover the shipping costs and baggage fees for donations as they make their way to the various countries.
Drop off new and used soccer balls at East Cooper Sporting Goods, 887 Ben Sawyer Blvd. in Mount Pleasant and at Kids Teeth locations in Park West and 1073 Johnnie Dodds Blvd., Mount Pleasant.
Buy books for schools across the world. Barnes & Noble in Towne Centre in Mount Pleasant is hosting a book drive Nov. 23-29. Purchase books in the store or buy online at www.barnesandnoble.com. Once the books are in the online shopping cart, note they are for a bookfair and then enter code: 11224888.
As part of a 4-H community service project, Skyla has been asking local and national businesses to provide donations for schools and orphanages all over the globe.
“You have an impact on people who otherwise wouldn’t have anything,” she said.
Don’t be fooled by the fact Skyla is 14; her determination and commitment are well beyond her age. She has no problem emailing online businesses to ask for T-shirt donations or approaching the Barnes & Noble in Mount Pleasant, which is a favorite hangout for Skyla and her friends, about a book drive for children in the more than dozen countries she is helping.
Her family endures the boxes of art supplies, shirts and books piled around the house. Her dad Andy pitches in for shipping costs. Her older sister Savannah drives her around town to pick up donations. It’s a family affair.
The concepts of community service and hard work are values Skyla said her parents have instilled in their four children. Because the children are homeschooled, mom Liza Campbell made an extra effort to ensure community service would be part of their education.
A focus on service
About three years ago, Liza decided to start a local 4-H club, Charleston Change 4-H Club, with a focus on community service. There are a few 4-H sister clubs in the Charleston area with about 40 children participating.
Liza said she appreciates the family atmosphere of 4-H, the core values that align with her own Christian beliefs and the emphasis on service.
Earlier this year, she met a local 4-H alumnae, Sarah Hipp, who has been doing mission work in Rwanda since 2006. Hipp is particularly active with Amahoro Children’s School, helping collect supplies for the students there.
Hipp had coffee with Liza and Skyla, sharing the story of her work and the vast needs of the children in Rwanda. A couple of weeks later, Hipp heard from Skyla, who already had 10 organizations that wanted to help.
Liza joined with her co-workers at Pier One in Mount Pleasant to purchase more than 100 sock monkeys so the children could have their own toys. “Can you imagine your child not growing up with a favorite toy?” Liza said.
Hipp, her father and a friend traveled in Rwanda in August for three weeks, taking with them more than 400 pounds of shoes, shirts, toys and school supplies. Their suitcases were loaded down, and Hipp put out a call to her Facebook friends for help paying the extra baggage fees. She received just enough to cover the $570.
“It made a tremendous difference on our last trip,” Hipp said of the donations. “The kids there were overwhelmed. Most of them had never had their own personal toy before. I can’t tell you the difference it made in their lives. I know it sounds kind of cliche, but feeling joy is a human need. I got to see the delight on their faces. It really changed the ways kids responded to me and helped me build relationships.”
Hipp said Skyla’s efforts have been “tremendous.”
“She’s really driven, really focused, really passionate and yet really humble,” Hipp said. “That makes a future leader really great. Confidence plus humility doesn’t always come in the same package.”
A global affair
Skyla has moved beyond the school in Rwanda, reaching out to organizations around the globe to see what they might need. She typically sends the supplies with volunteers headed to those overseas organizations. It saves on expensive international shipping costs as well as ensuring the donated goods make it into the hands of the needy children.
Skyla has sent donations to Change A Life Uganda, Vive Peru, The El Salvador Project, World Joy (Ghana), Esperanza de Honduras, Sustainable Cambodia, The Mali Fund, Shepherd’s Field Orphanage and Ethiopia Reads, among others.
Hard work and the Internet have aided in Skyla’s success. “Email has been used for everything,” she said.
Skyla sits with her iPad, watching television and researching possible donors so she can email requests for clothing, books and school supplies.
A T-shirt company gave her 500 misprinted shirts. The Charleston Battery has given soccer balls.
Other organizations that have donated to Skyla’s efforts include Peace Frogs; UberPrints.com; Artist and Craftsman; Kassis Bros. Shoes; Charleston Cotton Exchange; Customized Girl; Pier One employees in Mount Pleasant, North Charleston and West Ashley; Design a Shirt; The Citadel soccer team; Charleston Change 4-H Club members; Palmetto Moon; Chick-fil-A; and WonderWorks.
It’s been quite an undertaking for a 14-year-old girl from Mount Pleasant, but at no point is she undeterred. A favorite quote sums up her efforts: “To find yourself, you have to lose yourself in the service of others.”
And it doesn’t matter if you’re 14 years old, Skyla said, if you have a desire, you simply “figure out how to do it.”
“Be bold and be persistent,” she said. “Don’t give up on it. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t get sidetracked and lose faith in what you want to do.”
Hipp agrees, “A lot of times we underestimate giving responsibility to teenagers, but they are passionate. If you can find a niche (for them) and let them go, it’s amazing what they can do. You won’t find anything more passionate than a 14-year-old on a mission.”