Meet Olivia…assumably a normal, young girl.
Yet she battles with asthma, has endured two significant concussions playing soccer, and has had a few cardiology scares. She likes school and the arts, and loves Jesus. In 2009 a devastating FEMA flood destroyed her entire community. The waters took away material possessions and even rendered Olivia and her family completely house-less. After living in a hotel and waiting for restoration, but getting none, Olivia and her family were forced to relocate to a different state and change schools several times…she was 8 at the time.
God was stirring something BIG in her nonetheless. So many people came to the aid of her family and neighbors. People from Samaritans Purse, Billy Graham Disaster teams and many, many others.
At age 10, Olivia formed Save The Earth Projects (S.T.E.P.) as a way to give back because of those that helped. S.T.E.P. is a no-profit, socially-responsible, humanitarian initiative for people to create projects that change the world little by little. Olivia started with her own project “Leave a GOOD Footprint” with a goal in November 2012 to collect 100 shoes to be deployed globally to those in the most need, raising money for local charities, and reducing the impacts on USA landfills.
By Christmas she collected 1800 pair.
The goodwill continues to spread and people all over the United States are S.T.E.P.ping up. Olivia has now collected almost a ton of shoes numbering well over 6000 pair, and has donated several thousand dollars to a variety of charities. Her first UK drive started this month (March ’14) and she has a goal of reaching 10,000 pair by the end of the year. At the ripe old age of 12 now, she has been asked to keynote speak to youth conferences, adult organizations like rotary, chambers and junior leagues, and is even a featured guest on a prominent inspirational radio program.
Olivia was the first ever youth recipient of the Johana Knox Award for Community Service Excellence. She intends to live out God’s purpose in her life through her mission statement of living responsibly locally, raising awareness nationally, giving globally.
Though she has faced much difficulty, Olivia teaches us that together we can ALL make a BIG difference. One S.T.E.P. at a time. Olivia is a fighter.
Photo courtsey of the Johana Knox Award website.