Instead of gifts for herself, she asked for gifts to Habitat

Rachel Newman (right) and her friend Felicia Gal (left) sold treats to raise money for Habitat Collier. Courtesy: Leigh Ann Newman

Rachel Newman (right) and her friend Felicia Gal (left) sold treats to raise money for Habitat Collier. Photo credit: Leigh Ann Newman

Rachel Newman isn’t your average 11-year-old. She is active in Irish dancing, piano, flute, acting and volleyball. When she’s not participating in one her many hobbies, she can usually be found reading or writing. She even has her own column in Neapolitan FamilyRachel Recommends.

On top of all that, she’s determined to make a difference for local families. Rachel has taken it upon herself to raise money for Habitat for Humanity of Collier County. She came up with the idea to donate to Habitat on her own, but a conversation with her mother, Leigh Ann, first sparked her interest last year.

“She asked me what charities I liked, and when I told her about Habitat and their mission she really liked it,” Leigh Ann said. “She was sad that she wasn’t old enough to volunteer.”

The minimum age required to volunteer with Habitat Collier is 16, putting Rachel just a few years shy of being able to work on a job site or in the office, but that didn’t discourage her. She was determined to find a way to support Habitat Collier’s mission. With the help of her friend Felicia, Rachel baked cookies to sell at Autumn Woods. The money they raised—about $25—went straight to Habitat Collier.

Many would have stopped at that, but what Rachel did next was an act of someone well beyond her 11 years. Instead of putting together a long list of toys or gadgets she wanted last Christmas like most kids her age, Rachel had something more philanthropic in mind. Instead of getting, she wanted to give.

“I asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she told me roller skates and donations to Habitat for Humanity,” Leigh Ann said.

In her daughter’s honor, Leigh Ann committed to making a monthly gift to Habitat. Those funds will be used to help build affordable housing for families in need in Collier County, a gift that will last a lifetime.

At a young age, Rachel has already discovered how rewarding it can be to give to others. This year, Rachel has once again included Habitat for Humanity on her Christmas list.


Join Rachel and make a gift to Habitat Collier for the Holidays