Look out, world! You may not be aware that some children of Pope County are changing the world right here in Dover and Russellville. We frequently hear stories about the achievements and contributions of adults, but this month we highlight the work of two bright and selfless young people. Kamrie Ewing and Bodhi Lovely are giving their time and energy to make a difference.
Kamrie Ewing, a fifth-grader from Dover Elementary School, raises money and collects items needed for area children. She was recently named Citizen of the Year by the Russellville Chamber of Commerce for her generous efforts. She was also given the Outstanding Community Service Award by the Dover Chamber of Commerce.
As a 9-year-old fourth grader, Kamrie began making hair ribbons during summer vacation. She told her mother she wanted to sell some to raise money for an orphanage. Although her parents didn’t think she would sell any, except to a few family members, they supported her. She talked her father, David Ewing, into letting her sell ribbons at her brother, Christian’s, baseball games, There, she peddled $3 hair ribbons to complete strangers, raising $1000 in six weeks. And the rest is history.
The Ewings didn’t know of an orphanage in the area, so Kamrie’s father told her to pray about where to donate the money. Three days later, she decided to donate the money to an 11-year-old cancer patient. She felt so good about giving, she raised another $2,000 and gifted it to the same child.
In December 2012, Kamrie heard about The Southern Christian Home in Morrilton, which housed 49 foster children at the time. Kamrie decided she wanted to raise $100 for those kids in time for Christmas. “Remember, to a 9-year-old, $100 is a ton of money,” said Kamrie’s mother, Melanie Ewing.
Kamrie came up with a bookmark idea to raise the money. Her mother helped promote it on Facebook, and Kamrie’s “Operation Bookmark Happiness” was launched. The program asked five people to sponsor a teacher for $20, and Kamrie would make a bookmark out of her ribbon scraps for each student in the class. Five sponsorships would raise the $100 she wanted to give to The Southern Christian Home. “Well, five days later, 106 teachers had been sponsored in 4 different states! She raised over $2,000 in just five days!” said Melanie. Bookmark Parties were attended by 25 volunteers that helped Kamrie make 2,800 bookmarks.
Kamrie told her mom that she “never wants to quit.” She followed the bookmarks with a garage sale, asking the community to donate items. She ended up with eight truckloads of items, helping to raise another $2,100, which she again donated to The Southern Christian Home. “I love seeing the kids’ faces when they receive the gifts,” said Kamrie.
Other projects followed the garage sale. In March Kamrie founded a nonprofit organization, which she named Kamrie’s Colorful Creations.
Kamrie started a drive last summer to collect backpacks for 66 foster children in Pope County. She collected 144 backpacks and was able to give every foster child in our county a backpack. The extra backpacks were donated to Dardanelle Elementary and Dover Elementary schools.
With the help of her school principal, Josh Daniels, she held a food drive last November in which Dover, Danville, Westside and Hector schools participated. Together they collected 3,805 food items for kids who don’t have enough to eat on the weekends, with each school distributing what they collected for children in their own school district.
Kamrie also collected and donated 25 suitcases on wheels to The Call for foster children in Pope County, 37 pairs of shoes and socks for kids in need at Dover Elementary School. Other gifts to the children of Southern Christian Home, including playground gravel, vacuum cleaners, duffle bags and hair-styling supplies.
Community involvement was a big help with Kamrie’s work. “Thank you to the 289 volunteers that have spent 483 hours of their time to kids in need,” she said. That number does not include the businesses that have donated money and supplies to her projects. “If each of us would just help one child together we can help 100,” said Kamrie
Kamrie was invited to be a guest speaker via Skype to a middle school humanitarian club in California. “She loves meeting new people and making new friends,” said her mother. “She was also invited to speak to 75 fourth-graders at Old Wire Elementary School in Rogers, and she had a blast.” She took a petition, asking all of the kids to pledge to do something nice for another kid that day. We took bookmark supplies and let the students make bookmarks with us,” Melanie said.
The Ewings’ next big project is Kamrie’s Pooch Palooza, June 14 at the Hughes Center from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. The dog show will feature more than a dozen categories. The entry fee is $10 each, with local celebrity judges including Kamrie’s school principal, an elected official, a beauty queen and a veterinarian, to name a few. There will be booths with food for people and pooches, pooch supplies and t-shirts. Vendor space will be available for $65, which includes a Pooch Palooza t-shirt. Visit kamriescolorfulcreations.org for more information.
Kamrie also enjoys singing, playing softball, Girl Scouts and playing with her dogs, Jasper, the miniature Dachshund and Zoe, the chocolate lab rescue dog.
Bodhi Lovely began his journey of service as a third-grader at London Elementary. His principal, Tammy Chandler, introduced him to a national program called the Alliance for a Healthier Generation. Chandler said the program “sounded like Bodhi” and recommended that he apply for the Youth Advisory Board. Bodhi had previously raised $1,000 for the American Heart Association through his participation in Jump Rope for Heart at school.
After careful consideration and research on the Alliance website, Bhodi decided to apply. He was selected to be one of only 20 from across the country to serve a three-year term on the Youth Advisory Board. Bodhi has attended board academies in Boston, Mass.; San Antonio, Texas; and Charlotte, N.C. The Alliance, sponsored by the American Heart Association and the Clinton Foundation, promotes programs to help fight childhood obesity.
After attending his first Summer Academy, Bhodi returned to his principal at London Elementary with the idea of holding Might Nights to promote more physical activity among children and adults. Principal Chandler liked the idea and helped start them at London Elementary once a month. Might Nights have since expanded to twice a month, Might Night 2.0, in Dwight Elementary and London Elementary Schools. Bodhi plans to launch Might Night 3.0 next year, adding a third school location.
Might Nights last from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and are led by different volunteers. Past activities have included karate, Zumba, soccer and line dancing. “We have had great volunteers, like Mrs. Cude, Mrs. Chandler and Scott Roberts, my Karate teacher,” said Bodhi. “The community is really coming together.” The Russellville High School East Lab students designed Might Night posters, which are displayed at Dwight and London, showing the schedule.
Upcoming Might Nights are March 6 at Dwight Elementary with recess activities taught by Karin Cude and Bodhi, and March 20 at London Elementary, featuring Frisbee golf with Doug Housley from Carr’s Chain Reaction. April 3 is Kayaking at Lake Dardanelle State Park – rain or shine. Indoor activities are planned by Park Interpreter Sasha Bowles in case of rain. April 17, at the Boat Ramp parking lot on West Highway 64 (the west side of the causeway,) there will be a hike on the new trail with Danny Hales from TAKAHIK River Valley Hikers. Bodhi encourages parents to “Bring the whole family and get mighty!”
Each Might Night includes door prizes donated by area businesses, including Vintage Books, Quizno’s, Health Food Gardens, Tops Shoes, Kitchen Connection and Feltner’s. Two end-of-year pot luck dinners are scheduled for May 1 at London Elementary and May 15 at Dwight Elementary. Bring a healthy entrée or side dish with the recipe to share. For more information about Might Nights, contact Bhodi at 479-890-4575 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bodhi is now 12; a sixth-grader at Russellville Middle School. He recently spoke to the Russellville City Council and the School Board about Brain Breaks. This program, now used at Dwight, Center Valley and London Elementary Schools, incorporates brief periods of physical activity to refresh students’ brains throughout the school day. Bodhi discovered a book and website titled, Gym in Minutes, which he shared with Principal Chandler. He also mentioned the site schooltube.com and playing the game, Just Dance, on YouTube. “The kids really like it,” he said.
Mayor Bill Eaton presented Bodhi with a Recognition Award for his efforts in the schools. Bodhi also wrote an article for the city employees’ wellness newsletter.
Bodhi is also passionate about conditions at his current school. He expressed concern about the lack of playground equipment for sixth- and seventh-grade students at RMS. “The only thing we have outside is a basketball court.” He also mentioned that 6th-grade students take P.E. for one semester of the school year. “Half of the year, they have no activity,” he said.
Bodhi has also observed that the portions of fruits and vegetables in the cafeteria are small, and he thinks there are still not enough healthy options. He shared that the concession stand for ballgames is open once or twice a week after school with junk food for sale. “I’ve seen a kid get on the bus with 3 bags of Skittles he bought, and that is his after-school snack.”
The Alliance for a Healthier Generation website, healthiergeneration.org, has free downloads and e-newsletters for parents, schools, and anyone interested in starting one of its initiatives. Health Matters recently announced that the Boys and Girls Clubs of America are adopting the Alliance’s framework for healthier out-of-school eating and activity.
Bodhi is the son of Kim and Eric Lovely of London and is big brother to his 7-year-old sister, Nyasa. He finds time for reading, Karate, playing Minecraft and playing saxophone.