Wednesday, September 02, 2009

How Art Can Change The World

Fiona Donovan has a big heart.  Living in Alexandria, Virginia, in the Washington, DC metro area, homeless people are not an uncommon sight to her- on park benches, along the roadsides, or roaming the streets.  She was especially bothered that there are children without homes and wanted to do something to help. That's when she struck on an idea to use her natural talents and create art, sell it and "give the money to kids who need homes".  She went to work painting and drawing, and now sells greeting cards, donating 100% of the profit to a local homeless shelter.

Fiona is five years old. 

Her mother, Amy, said it was all Fiona's idea; Amy and her husband, Scott, only helped her fine-tune the concept and figure out a business model.  Greeting cards seemed like the best idea, as the artwork Fiona created could be mass produced and distributed more easily.  It would also be something that can grow with her; Fiona can add new designs and themes as she produces them.  She is considering a Christmas card theme, but at the moment she is sticking with her original eleven designs.

They put up a website to sell the cards, but let Fiona choose the charity.  "Fiona chose the Carpenter's Shelter because they are in our city, and because they do so much to help children specifically," Amy told me.  They started selling the cards in early June, and last week Fiona delivered a check to the Carpenter's Shelter for $805.  Amy says, "We have surpassed our expectations with the donations and enthusiasm we have received. Many people have donated above the minimum amount."

                             Fiona and her parents presenting a check to the Carpenter's Shelter

Fiona is a talented girl; her mother says she has always been interested in drawing and painting.  "She likes to take art lessons and create her own art at home. She is constantly drawing. The other night, after watching a fashion show on TV, she immediately drew 6 different dress designs."
As for the artwork for the cards, Fiona used some pieces she had already created in art class, then made the rest over a two week period.  She told me, "most of them are oil pastels, sharpie markers, and watercolors. Some have paint and chalk pastels."  She wants to be an artist when she grows up, though I think her project shows she already is one.
When I asked her what she would like to say to the Pinon Tree readers, she replied, "Everybody should help each other."  Wise words.

Fiona's parents are rightfully proud of their daughter and her efforts to make a change in her community.  As Amy pointed out, "Not every kid on the first day of Kindergarten can answer the 'what did you do on your summer vacation' question with 'I raised $800 for homeless families.'  It's remarkable."

Indeed!  You can buy Fiona's cards or make a donation to the Carpenter's Shelter through her website, Fiona's Greeting Cards for Charity. 

I've never met Fiona or her parents (we have a mutual friend who told me about Fiona's project), but Bryan and I will be relocating to Alexandria in the coming weeks, so I hope to have the opportunity to meet them soon.

Brava Fiona!  As they say in Italy, "Hai fatto bene!


Peter at italyMONDO! said...

WOW... What a remarkable story - and a remarkable girl! The world needs more people like you, Fiona! Brava :-)

Valerie said...

Peter - I was very impressed by her heart and her art! She's a doll.