When he saw pictures of his dad’s mission trip to Peru, Rhett Safranek wanted to help. He may only be 8-years-old, but this kid proves you’re never too young to make a difference.
Craig Safranek was part of a missions trip with a group called Scripture Union back in August, 2009. On the trip the group visited a boys home, located a 45-minute boat ride from the city of Iquitos, Peru. This home houses 40-50 boys.
Craig’s son, Rhett, enjoyed looking at the pictures his father brought home from the trip and listening to the stories of boys his age living a very different life from his. He knew he wanted to do something to help, and to show these boys that someone their age cared about them.
Rhett’s opportunity to raise funds for the boys home came during this year’s Junk Jaunt. He set up a stand at his mom’s shop, The Secret Garden, and sold popsicles for 25 cents. However, he says most people just donated to his cause.
“I only sold about 40 popsicles,” Rhett laughs.
By the end of the weekend Rhett had raised $237. He says he made the decision, with the help of his parents, to purchase supplies to send to the home rather than just send the money.
“I wanted to make sure the kids got the stuff,” Rhett explains.
“In Nebraska we get lots of fun stuff for kids. But in Peru, kids just get left in the orphanage and don’t have stuff like we have,” says Rhett, explaining what drove him to raise money.
“I love raising money for stuff like this.”
In the past, Rhett has also been involved in fundraising for his church’s puppet ministry.
Craig explains that since the home is an orphanage, the boys’ basic needs - food, water, clothing - are met. “They just don’t have the fun stuff like the kids in America,” he says.
This shelter takes boys ranging in age from 8-17 off the street and provides them with the basic necessities, and guidance. These boys have been abandoned by their parents usually because they cannot feed or take care of them. The mission group works to build and renovate shelters to provide stability for these boys.
It is estimated that more than 60 percent of the approximately 27 million people in Peru live below poverty level, with half of the population being under the age of 18. Many have awakened from a nap to realize that their parents have left them behind.
Rhett and his parents made up a list of items they wanted to purchase with the money he raised to send to Peru. The list includes art and school supplies, and toys the kids can play with together - such as board games, cards and puzzles.
His mom brought him to Broken Bow last Friday, as Anselmo-Merna had the day off from school. They began their shopping at Pamida, and the store contributed a $40 gift certificate to Rhett’s cause as well as gave him a 15 percent discount on his purchase.
Rhett also purchased items at Alco in Broken Bow, who matched the 15 percent discount given by Pamida. This enabled Rhett to purchase even more stuff to send to the boys.
He also went through his own things at home, and boxed up all of his clothes that he has outgrown along with other items he no longer uses. All of these things will be packaged up and sent to Scripture Union for distribution to the boys home.
Rhett says he and his sister, Shaylyn, also pray for the kids in Peru every day.
“Every night when we are eating supper Shaylyn prays for the kids in Peru to have a good night and good food,” says Rhett.
The third grader now has his sights set on someday traveling to Peru with his father to visit the boys home himself. Until then, he will keep offering his help from home.
“I’m totally going to do this again next year!”, he says enthusiastically.
When he began his Peru fundraiser, Rhett had set a goal to raise $100.
“But as the money kept coming, he kept having to raise his goal,” laughed Craig.
For Rhett, raising money to help others is not considered a challenge. “It’s so fun,” he says. “I just like everyone to be happy in this world.”