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
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.
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
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.
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