10/01/2012 - By Gayle Irwin
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When Amber Jacobs saw the ads on TV about abused animals, she told her parents she wanted to help. When she found out about abused children in Casper, her determination to do something kicked into high gear.
"I thought, why don't we raise money to help kids who are being abused," she said.
She talked with her friend, Xia Bushi, who immediately got on board with the idea.
"I thought it would be good to help," Xia said.
The two girls made lemonade and began going door-to-door, even walking to the fire station not far from Amber's home. They recruited more friends and set up a lemonade stand in the neighborhood, working nearly every day throughout June and July to raise money. Their project: helping the Child Advocacy Project, which helps abused children.
"Every day, kids get abused – it's very sad," said Xia. "It's really rewarding when you give money to help others."
"It was a complete surprise," Heather Ross, director of CAP said when the girls brought nearly $200 to her in August. "These girls have such compassion! Kids can help (various community causes) and have that emotional connection with the community, having empathy for children less fortunate."
CAP is a private, non-profit organization that partners with law enforcement and others to see that child abuse victims receive the help they need. The program has experienced a substantial increase in the number of children served this year, Ross said; more than 210 cases have been reported as of August, she said. Amber and Xia's fundraising efforts will help CAP serve those children.
"For our program [the girls' donation] is big – it will help the children we serve get counseling and help us to train our staff," she stated.
The girls received a tour of the facility when they dropped off the funds.
"I think it's very said what they (abused children) go through," she said.
Both girls acknowledged encouragement from their parents and the response of the community helped them, and they thank all those who donated.
"The beauty of this," added Ross, "is that these girls took something from years ago – a simple lemonade stand – and made it 'now and today'. They hustled and went door-to-door. I think it's really impressive!"
The girls are not finished. Those animal ads on TV remain vivid in their minds, so their next focus is to help animals in Casper. They plan to re-establish their stand this fall and sell hot cider and chocolate. They may also include donuts.
"It's a good thing to do – to give back to the community," Xia said.
The two girls have been friends for about a year. When the girls met, a bond developed and enriched over time. A tie that binds them is compassion. Amber once rescued a baby duck and released it back into the wild when it became older and could care for itself. Her family has adopted dogs from the Casper Humane Society, something else she has in common with Xia.
"I just love animals!" Amber said, and her friend echoed that sentiment.
Ten-year-old Amber enjoys swimming and horseback riding. She attends St. Anthony's School and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up.
Xia is homeschooled and likes to sketch and write; she plans to be a writer one day, she said.
Their strong friendship is evident and important.
"We connect, we get each other," said Amber. "We're the best of friends!"
As the girls plan to help the animals at the Humane Society this fall, their vision goes beyond the next few months and how they may help others in need in Casper. They don't know where this caring project will lead them, but they do know they want to do more.
"We set smaller goals and we plan to go on to bigger ones," said Xia.