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When Alia was at the young age of 7, she noticed that although her family had a home, food, and wonderful toys and presents for birthdays, other children did not. This deeply troubled her to the point where on her sister’s birthday she couldn’t enjoy the day. Her mother noticed something was bothering Alia, and when she asked her about it Alia’s response was that although they had just had a wonderful day celebrating, there were children everywhere, “who couldn’t even smile on their birthday because they didn’t even have clothing to wear.” Alia then stated that she wanted to make sure that every child in the world was cared for. Her mother didn’t know how to respond, but was able to contact a friend who worked for the Green Bay, WI Rescue Mission to set up a tour and talk about ways they could help.
That tour truly changed Alia. She knew then that she wanted to do something to help local children. At the age of 7, Alia started her own non-profit “Simply 7.” She decided at first to make 7 birthday bags a month for the children staying at local shelters. Alia also wanted to get her friends and family involved, so she asked them to also create 7 bags.
After a few months she wanted to do more. Alia’s family had moved to Utah, which didn’t stop her at all. She continued creating bags for children experiencing homelessness. The next step, she figured, was to get more people involved. She wrote out her own letter and passed it out to everyone she could, family, friends, neighbors, her dad’s co-workers, and people from her church, asking for donations for her bags. She was thrilled to be able to create with the donations over 100 bags including full sized children’s items such as shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, socks, toys, and a snack.
From there Alia and “Simply 7” have grown, she was able to appear in the Salt Lake Tribune, and Channel 4 which gave her a great platform to encourage more people to help children experiencing homelessness. She has been amazed and excited by all the donations she has received from strangers to help her create her birthday bags.
Although we all see this as a successful venture, for Alia it wasn’t enough. She started working on her next project, in addition to her birthday bags, Winter Warm Bags. To do this she needed to reach out to more people. Alia held bake sales, used money she received as a gift, and continued writing letters to hand out to everyone she met. Soon donations started pouring in, Channel 2 did a story about her, and she got closer to reaching her goal of creating 100 Winter Warm Bags. By the end of her campaign Alia was able to deliver 119 Warm Winter Bags to The Road Home. Each one customized for a child in the shelter.
Alia continues to make big plans to help others. As she has brainstormed new ideas she has thought about helping whole families in need or even organizing and gathering school supplies for the children next fall.
We are so inspired by Alia and the incredible work she is doing! She continually inspires everyone she meets to truly reach out and help others. Sandy City Council recently recognized her great work and honored her with a Citizen of Merit Award. Thank you so much Alia for all of the work that you do for the people we serve!
If you would like to learn more about Alia and Simply 7 please visit her blog at www.simply7birthdaybags.blogspot.com