When Makaela Smith prepared to begin her eighth grade year at Garden Spot Middle School in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, she had more than just academics and cheerleading on her mind. Smith was determined to make a difference in the world around her.
Smith felt compelled to help people in her community who were affected by cystic fibrosis, a life- threatening lung disease that took her uncle’s life. Smith asked her principal if she could organize a fundraiser for cystic fibrosis, but the principal said no.
Her mom, Joline Martin, thought it was a great idea, but she figured the principal’s decision was final. But Smith wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Smith contacted the school district superintendent with her request. The superintendent encouraged her mother to bring her in for a meeting so he could explain why the school couldn’t participate. What was intended to show Smith why this project wouldn’t work at her school turned into a brainstorming session. By the time the meeting was over, they had come up with an idea to make it happen.
The result of meeting was the formation of the “Do Something Club.” As president of the club, Smith led a group of nearly 30 students in her school who meet each quarter to do something that makes a difference. In addition to raising $500 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, the club also organized a coat and food drive that helped 12 families in the community.
The club also looked to extend their good deeds beyond their community. Smith led the club to raise enough money for 25 micro loans through KIVA – a loan lending platform- in honor of the victims from the mass shooting in Sandy Hook Connecticut, where 20 children and eight adults died as a result of a mass shooting. Smith also organized a “pay it forward” event at their school to raise $982 in one day for people impacted by a massive tornado in the U.S. state of Oklahoma.
With all of the club’s endeavors, Smith clings to her original passion to help people affected by cystic fibrosis.
“Even if they find a cure for cystic fibrosis, I won’t stop,” says Smith. “I want to live my whole life caring for other people.”
Smith is an honor student inducted into the Spartan Society based on her leadership, citizenship and academics, and is a recently baptized member of her local Adventist church.
This story originally appeared in Visitor Magazine.