USC second-grader committed to making a difference
Set up with a variety of cookies and juice inside of the St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church fish fry, Ian Putorti greeted onlookers of his booth with a kind smile.
Joined by his father, Patrick, and employees from Trader Joe’s, Ian was trying to better his first fundraising effort weeks ago outside of the church after a religious education class that resulted in a hard-earned $78.
“Even if we earn $20, I would be happy,” Ian, a second grader at Streams Elementary School in Upper St. Clair proudly said only a few minutes into that attempt. “After doing it in front of a place that was really busy, we planned to do it at the fish fry because there are a lot of people and they are all going to have our wallets.”
That business-like mindset allowed the eight year old to collect $384 in donations April 7 with all of the money raised being donated to Doctors Without Borders, an international, independent medical organization that delivers emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters, and exclusion from health care.
“I went online and researched good charities to donate to,” Ian remembers when his father asked him and his siblings to pick a charity. “I scrolled down and saw Doctors Without Borders. I like what doctors do, so I researched it. Whenever I saw they didn’t care about politics or government, and would go beyond borders no matter what to help people, I thought that was really kind.”
Donating food and drinks towards the cause, Trader Joe’s employees also donated their own time to help make the fundraiser a success.
“Every month we donate to various charities in the community,” said David Hamilton, a crew member at Trader Joe’s that helped run the booth. “We like to think of ourselves as a small-town grocery store. We are here for the community. We have crew members and management that are very excited to help out. We like taking our business model outside of the store to be a part of the community.”
During his time raising money, Ian also wrote letters to the charity hoping his efforts were making a difference for the non-profit, self-governed organization founded in 1971.
“I gave our kids a choice as to who they wanted to donate to,” Patrick said. “Ian got the most involved with Doctors Without Borders. What it does really well is reaching out to those who donate. He got literature in the mail and it really just got him excited to keep up the efforts. Seeing his energy, his enthusiasm, and taking a step back as a parent to allow him to take the reins has really been wonderful.”
Thankful for the help from Trader Joe’s and the church, where they have been parishioners for 11 years, the success was something not only noticed by Ian and his father.
“I walked in and saw the setup,” Hamilton said. “Knowing that Ian did all this is just fantastic. I love it. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys and to be able to help out a great cause like this is phenomenal.”