Students at Our Lady of Malibu learned about charity and the gift of giving this week—lessons especially poignant during the holiday season. The kindergarten through eighth graders heard about a local nonprofit, In a Perfect World, and then got to work making bracelets for Christmas gifts to send to kids in foster care.

The charity’s founder, Manuela Testolini, said, “We believe all young people can change the world. So, we give them the tools and opportunity to do that.” The charity’s activity at OLM called “Dream Catchers” teaches children “through art and storytelling how they can have an impact on the world,” according to its founder. 

“In a Perfect World, we believe all boys and girls are brothers and sisters in the world. We want to teach kids this global world view,” the founder continued. 

The children got to craft colorful beaded bracelets, not only for themselves, but to give to others including foster children. 

“They can feel they’ve made an impact on a kid who they don’t even know, but who’s part of our global family,” Testolini explained.

The hand-strung bracelets included beads spelling out inspiring words such as “hope,” “love,” “joy,” “peace” and “smile.” The bracelets will be distributed in time for Christmas to In a Perfect World’s partner programs throughout Los Angeles County.

“Our goal is to have kids feel like they are change makers and we give them the tools to do that. We want to cultivate empathy and understanding,” Testolini included.

The nonprofit is hoping to partner with OLM on quarterly community service projects for more youngster participation. 

OLM mother of two Jennifer Posey told The Malibu Times this was a positive experience for Malibu’s young people.

“I love this because it instills in them that sense of connection to people they don’t know, but who are all around the world. Manuela coined a term: ‘Pint-sized activist.’ I love that,” Posey said. “We’re going to work more with her, like stuffing backpacks for underprivileged children [and] donating clothes for the less fortunate, [to teach] our kids that giving back and helping others is important. The kids will be adding notes with words, love. It’s a connection to the child they’re giving it to. 

“It is really sweet,” Posey continued. “The children will eventually get photos of the foster children receiving the bracelets, which will be meaningful for our kids.  The kids are having fun making art. It’s a sweet activity.”

The young students seemed to be enjoying making jewelry, but also mentioned they appreciated the opportunity to bring joy to other children who may be less fortunate.

Seventh-grader Maria Griesemer, 12, commented, “We’re making bracelets for kids in foster care because they don’t all have a lot of stuff that they need.  We’re deciding to give to them because they’re all lovely children. They all deserve something. It makes me feel happy to give because they’ll actually get something from someone.”

Another seventh-grader, 13-year-old Julia Thyssen, added, “We’re making bracelets for people in foster care. We hope they can have something that is nice from someone—something personal they can enjoy, something that was given to them. My message was ‘hope,’ so they can look forward to something.”  

Testolini said one student told her, “Her Christmas wish was to help a kid less fortunate than herself and that her wish just came true.”

To make a donation visit inaperfectworld.org

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