story & photo
by Maren Schober
How many of us know a 12-year-old who devotes much of her time raising thousands of dollars for the local charity of her choice? How many of us know a child who on the day of her eighth birthday party invites her guests to donate items for local shelter residents instead of giving her birthday gifts? Meet Natalie Anne Anderson, 12, Waterford, youth extraordinaire.
Natalie, currently a seventh-grader at St. Joseph School, New London, will receive the “Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy” Award on November 19th and for good reason. “On my eighth birthday, I asked my party guests to donate items for the Women’s Center of Southeastern CT instead of bringing me gifts,” Natalie explains. “I overheard my parents discussing a magazine article about charity birthdays and that sounded like a good idea to me.”
Natalie began collecting money for the Women’s Center when she was nine-years-old. On her 10th birthday, an endowment was started when she decided to raise $10,000 and thus the Natalie Anderson Children’s Fund for the Women’s Center came into being.
“I appeared on WCTY 97.7 FM during the Women’s Center’s annual radio-thon,” Natalie states. “I speak about my work to support the Women’s Center and my mission to help children affected by domestic violence. I collect new children’s pajamas for the children in the emergency shelter. Right now I’m helping to plan a benefit concert called ‘Inspiration 2’ which will take place at Waterford High School on October 24th. All monies collected goes into the Natalie Anderson Children’s Fund endowment at the Center.”
“It is important to me that others might be inspired to help people because of what they see me do. This summer on a survey a teenage boy said he was scared to tell someone that there was abuse in his home. That’s one of the reasons I continue my work at the Women’s Center. It is so I can help kids who aren’t safe at home.”
One person Natalie inspires is her younger brother Charles. On his ninth birthday Charles accepted donations instead of gifts, raising enough money to support his sister in reaching and surpassing her $10,000 goal!
Natalie’s enthusiasm is catching. She inspires other students at St. Joseph to host charity birthdays. The Gemma E. Moran United Way Labor Food Center and the Humane Society are some agencies that benefit.
Miss Marianne Cote, principal of St. Joseph School, confirms this. “Natalie Anderson is an excellent student academically at our school. She is a great leader and her peers think very highly of her. She is the first student to collect gifts for a charity at her birthday party and now others in this school are doing the same thing. Natalie is an inspiration to all of us.”
Surprisingly, Natalie also has time to enjoy her hobbies. “I take dance lessons, play the flute and guitar, and sing in the school chorus. I am a Girl Scout, altar server, play softball and love to read and write stories.”
Our local community is surely blessed with Natalie and her efforts.