Boy turning 13 working to raise $13k for Africa
He'll be having a party for the final stretch of his fundraising goal on Sunday, April 23 at Zion Lutheran Church, 330 Union Ave. in Snohomish, from 3 – 5 p.m.
Blake Habersetzer shows his tri-fold sign to raise awareness while seated at his local school.
SNOHOMISH — It’s not every day that one meets an almost-thirteen-year-old who wants to help people suffering from the drought in Somalia by raising thousands of dollars.
Blake Habersetzer is taking action after seeing images from the east African nation, with the help and empowerment from family, friends and an organization called World Concern.
He aims to raise $13,000 by his 13th birthday, which is April 24. He will be having a party for the final stretch of his fundraising goal on Sunday, April 23 at Zion Lutheran Church, 330 Union Ave., from 3 – 5 p.m.
As of late last week, he and a few friends from school have raised $6,500. Habersetzer and his mom, Paulette Habersetzer, and a few friends from school often set up his fundraising booth in front of the Snohomish Haggen grocery store.
“I’m halfway there,” Habersetzer said cheerfully. “When we go out or set up in front of Haggen’s, you have to talk really
fast and hope people will listen to these hugely sad facts, and I’ve talked with people about it and sometimes it’s good. The people who say negative things, it doesn’t bother me. I soon forget about them.”
Conversations are started, and Habersetzer is already a great conversationalist due to his involvement in speech and debate class, but Blake’s homemade tri-fold poster he displays says it all.
At the top in bold blue, it reads “13K for Blake’s 13th” and beneath that, “Helping People Suffering from Drought” along with facts, pictures and information about World Concern.
The Shoreline-based Christian human-itarian organization World Concern helps with disaster relief and sustainable growth and aid around the globe. It was founded in 1955.
In a meeting, Blake asked World Concern’s director of disaster response Chris (Sheach), what is “the difference was between ‘drought’ and ‘flooding,’” Habersetzer said. “He told me the drought in Somalia has been ongoing, happening for a long time and affecting the people, the children, their animals, and they are starving to death because you can’t live without water. Flooding is fast, it happens quickly
and it’s bad. A drought there is happening slowly, painfully.”
Habersetzer said he was first inspired to raise $13,000 by his 13th birthday by a guest speaker at his school named Mindy Lee Irvine, who through World Concern had raised $40,000 for her 40th birthday to help stop child trafficking.
“I heard about the
drought in Somalia by researching and reading on World Concern’s website, and thought of Mindy, and thought, ‘I could try to raise $13,000 for my 13th
birthday’ and I talked to my parents and my siblings about it and that’s kinda how it started,” Habersetzer said thoughtfully.
Habersetzer is the youngest of four children and plays in a sibling band, Crosswalk 614, with two older siblings, Grant and Allie. Their oldest sister, Madison, is away at college. When the siblings aren’t playing in the band or attending school, they talk and pursue other activities that their parents encourage. They also support each other’s goals and aspirations.
“I thought Blake’s goal was lofty at first and I didn’t really think he could get that much money, but, he’s done well and it’s a great thing,” said Grant Habersetzer, 17.
When Blake Habersetzer talks to people, his blue eyes remain focused on theirs. He speaks candidly to adults, young adults, teens and kids alike and has a broad smile on his face. In raising this money for water in Somalia,
his eyes light up and he talks without hesitation about it because, according to Paulette, her son has found his passion and the mission was something put on his heart by God.
“He is going to hit this goal and we are so proud of him,” Paulette said. “I’ve just been amazed at how warm the people in Snohomish are
when they talk with Blake. We’ve also gone and
fundraised at the Lake Stevens Haggen.”
Blake said he has learned a lot about talking - and listening - to different people.
“I like to talk to people about this: Sometimes people make jokes about our rainy weather here and sending that to Somalia instead, or they
doubt where the money is actually going, but it is going to help those people,” he said. “You see pictures from Somalia, and how dry and parched the land is, where here, we are so filled with rain we’re almost sick of it. People need to know about it.”
On the partly rainy morning the Habersetzers spoke with the Tribune, Blake and Paulette were also waiting with a thick envelope of money to give to Mikki Running, a donor relations employee with World Concern.
“Mikki is bringing her ‘big purse’ today,” Paulette said playfully to Blake. Running arrived and Habersetzer happily handed her the overstuffed tan envelope.
“What I love about this with Blake, is it’s like seeing a new generation of hope and Blake has just blown us away at World Concern,” Running said. “We are seeing Blake, and other kids around his age raising money for these causes, and they all have this same outlook of, ‘we have enough, so let’s give, give, give.’ It’s really powerful.”
Running spoke of other adolescents that are raising money to donate goats to poor farmers and rural communities, and mosquito nets to stop the spread of malaria, which is rampant in parts of Africa.
“It truly is a unique person who wants to come and do this kind of work,” Running said. “Especially at (Blake’s) age. I see him hitting his goal, plus some, and I can see him going on to do great things. He can be a voice for his generation because he has genuine passion.”
If you want to help Blake reach his
birthday goal, he will be at the Snohomish Haggen on Wednesday from 1 to 4:30 p.m. or come to his party at Zion Lutheran Church on April 23.
You can also go to give.worldconcern.org/fundraise?fcid=908618 or visit his Facebook page.
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