9-Year-Old Raising Money for Camp Decides to Help Immigrants Instead

Gabriel is sewing pillowcases to help others.
  • A nine-year-old gave up the money he was earning for sleepaway camp to help immigrant children separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • By sewing pillowcases and selling them, he’s hoping to help the families get lawyers so they can stay together.

What began as a personal fundraising sewing project for 9-year-old Gabriel R.* has turned into a mission of compassion for immigrant children who were separated from their families and placed in detention centers at the U.S.-Mexico border.

It all started when Gabriel overheard his mother, Angela, talking to his father about the Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy toward illegal immigration and the thousands of immigrant children whose separation from their families subsequently became collateral damage.

Curious about the issue, Gabriel started asking his parents questions. After hearing their answers, he made a selfless decision: Instead of using the money he was earning from sewing pillowcases to attend a fun sleepaway camp, he would donate the funds to help the children.

Once Gabriel made his mission clear, Angela Googled, “How can Canadians help?” and found RAICES — a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that provides free or affordable legal services to in-need immigrant children, families and refugees in Texas. Gabriel plans to send all of his earnings to the charitable organization.

When asked what he hopes his donations will be used for, Gabriel said, “I hope they use the money so the kids and parents can have lawyers. Families need to be together.”

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This is the second year Gabriel has decided to sell pillowcases to raise money for camp. He and his mom chose pillowcases because she sews and has a surplus of fabric on hand. Plus, it seemed like a manageable beginner project.

nine-year-old Gabriel Roberge with pillow case
©Angela Roberge

Gabriel initially started out with a $250 goal, which is half the cost of the sleepaway camp he wanted to attend. His parents had agreed to pay the other half. According to Angela, before starting the project to help the children, Gabriel had already earned $205 from his pillowcase sales. Since deciding to donate all the money he earns to help the immigrant families, he’s earned $140 more — and already has orders for 20 additional pillowcases.

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Gabriel doesn’t charge a specific amount per pillowcase. Instead, he takes donations. “Most [donations] hang out around $10 to $20 per pillowcase,” Angela said. “Some give way more than that, but we [also] have those that want to help but can only give $5. He’s also had people give without wanting a pillowcase at all — and a couple that direct the case elsewhere, like the local animal shelter.”

When asked how people are responding to Gabriel’s mission, Angela said, “People have said lovely things about him. He’s got a good heart. We’re raising a good person.”

Check out others who are giving back like Oprah and all the ways she tries to help others.

*Last name withheld on request.

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