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It's Better to Light a Candle...
Excerpt from New Moon: The Magazine for Girls and Their Dreams

by Ariel Ring and Valorie Darling

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Can a couple of girls make a difference in the world? We never thought we could--at least not until we started our own business.

We were rolling candles as Christmas presents one cold November morning in 1996. Later that afternoon while shopping, we asked a neighborhood store if they sold beeswax candles. When we found out they didn't, ideas began whirling through our heads.

That day we decided to sell candles and donate the money to charities. Earlier, we had read about the horrendous conditions of orphanages in Romania. Our local newspaper did a special report about local people who took money, clothing, toys, food, medicine, and love to the orphans there. It touched our hearts, stayed in our minds, and changed our lives forever. We decided to donate all of our profits to the Romanian orphans.

That same day, we sent letters to local businesses asking if they would sell our homemade candles. With our babysitting money, we bought beeswax sheets and wicking. Then we figured out how to package and tag the candles for sale. Two other girls joined us in our business venture, and Val came up with our name, The Helping Hearts.

The old Chinese proverb "It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness" became our motto. This motto suits us because we think it's better to take action than just to sit around and say, "That's too bad, but I can't make a difference."

During our first week of business, an ice storm hit our area, leaving 100,000 people without power. Candles were selling like crazy! We sold about $1,100 worth the first week. Soon, we could not keep up with the demand, so we taught other kids how to roll candles. Some of their first candles did not meet our quality expectations, so we melted them down into beeswax ornaments to sell. They were a big hit; we even made money from mistakes!

We sold candles every weekend until Christmas at a store and a restaurant in our neighborhood. After expenses, we donated over $5,000 to the orphanages, and we had only been in business for 45 days!

For Valentine's Day, we came up with several different designs. We decided to ask our whole school to roll candles for a school dance. Forty-five girls and boys attended our candle rolling workshop. At the dance, we sold $300 worth of candles.

In all, we raised around $7,000 for the Romanian orphans. This is the last we gave to them, but they are constantly in our hearts. When we are older, we want to go to Romania and help the children. We both want to be pediatric cardiac surgeons (heart doctors for kids), so we will truly be "helping hearts."

In 1997, we decided to donate the proceeds from our business to a different charity. We found out about a suicide awareness program for teens, called SMILE, which stands for Students Mastering Important Lifeskills Education. We gave a total of $1,000 to this great program. Now we are giving our profits to Hurricane Mitch relief.

We plan to continue The Helping Hearts so that we can help unfortunate children and troubled teens. It is exciting to look back and see how our idea started small and grew big. Our parents thought we might raise $200; we thought we might earn $1,000. Actually, we have donated more than $8,000 to charities! It has been a lot of work, but a lot of fun, too. We roll our candles with love, fill them with compassion, and sell them with the hope of making the world a better place.

Arielle Ring, 13, lives in Washington, with her parents, a brother, a sister, a dog, and a cat. She loves soccer and ski racing. She collects Beanie Babies, which she buys and sells on the Internet.

Valorie Darling, 13, lives in Washington, with her parents, her brother Adam, her dog Dakota, and her cat Spud. Val is on the drill team at her school. Gymnastics takes up most of Val's free time, but she also enjoys making quilts.

About New Moon Girl Media
Since 1992, New Moon has given girls ages 8-12 a place to create their own media and share it with the world. A champion of girl-centered content with New Moon Girls magazine and the groundbreaking online community www.newmoon.com, NM pioneers innovative, ad-free communities where girls develop their full potential in safe, creative and positive worlds. NM is the expert in original, high-quality content made by girls and selected by their peers. Learn more at www.newmoon.com

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