Ashley Elliot and Artistic Realization Technologies

Standing in front of a paint-splattered wall, 16-year-old Ashley Elliott slides a pointer stick along a partially completed canvas until 21-year-old artist Sam Hill tells her to stop. When he gives the word, Elliott splashes black paint diagonally across the canvas. Continue reading

Remi Hodges and the American Red Cross

Less than a week after Remi Hodges and her family returned home from their vacation in Thailand in late 2004, a tsunami hit the region destroying infrastructure and killing hundreds of thousands of people. Hodges was 8 at the time, and remembers watching the news in disbelief and being devastated.

“She said, ‘We’ve got to do something,’” her mom, Audrianna Grisham, remembers.

A few months later on Valentine’s Day, also Hodges’ ninth birthday, she asked for donations to the American Red Cross instead of presents. She says she raised more than $1,000, becoming a major gift donor for the organization. That was just the start of Hodges’ fundraising.

“I just kept going, and I haven’t stopped,” says Hodges, now 17.

This level of fundraising at such a young age “doesn’t happen without supportive parents,” and Hodges has “received incredible support from her parents in her efforts,” says Brigette Williams, regional communications officer for the Red Cross in Arkansas.

Asking for donations to the Red Cross instead of birthday presents has become one of Hodges’ major fundraising campaigns. Last year for her 16th birthday, she had a 1950s, sock-hop-themed Sweet 16 party and raised about $1,500 for the Red Cross.

Besides asking for donations on her birthday, Hodges also writes letters seeking donations and finds other ways to raise money, like setting up games at the annual convention of one of her mom’s clients.

“It’s fun to figure out what to do next,” she says. “I never expect to get anything back.”

Despite years of fundraising, Hodges says she’s always surprised and humbled at the level of giving. Over the years, she estimates that she’s raised about $10,000 for the Red Cross. She says it’s been a great experience and she has enjoyed meeting people, making friends and being one of the youngest in attendance at “official” Red Cross meetings.

Hodges is a member of the Clara Barton Society, which is a designation for those who gift $1,000 or more per year to the Red Cross. She also received the Arkansas Heroes Youth Award when she was nine.

The importance of commitment and seeing something through is something Grisham has instilled in her daughter. This quality has been evident in Hodges’ fundraising and in her other activities, like volunteering at the Maumelle Senior Wellness Center and being active in her school band. In April, Hodges, a junior at Maumelle High School, will star in the school’s production of “Grease,” and this summer she plans to attend Arkansas Governor’s School.

Fundraising for the Red Cross goes beyond actually raising money, says Hodges. She says it also includes raising awareness about the world’s problems. And, she says, she feels lucky to have the chance to inspire others.

“I like to open people’s eyes to what’s going on in the world,” Hodges says. “It’s cool to do that at my age. I’ve helped in something bigger than myself.”

American Red CrossThe American Red Cross in Arkansas works daily to help individuals prevent, prepare for and respond to natural and manmade disasters and emergencies through education and the immediate mobilization of people and resources for disasters. The Red Cross impacts communities in many ways, through response to residential fires and other disasters, blood donations, and lives saved by someone trained in First Aid, CPR or AED.

3 easy ways to make a donation to the American Red Cross:

  1. Online donation form
  2. text REDCROSS to 90999 to make a $10 donation
  3. Or, call 1-800-RedCross

Bryce White and B.I.G. Love Cancer Care

Bryce White is a seven-year-old who has it all figured out.

He recently celebrated his 7th birthday and when it came down to the presents, Bryce gave all that he received to an organization call B.I.G. Love because “that’s what God would do.”

B.I.G. Love is an organization providing personalized care to cancer kids and their families in Texas and Arkansas. It is a non-profit, volunteer based organization established in memory of Brooke Alyson Phillips, daughter of founder Jessica Phillips, who battled acute myeloid leukemia.

Bryce learned about B.I.G. Love by watching a video at his church. Jay White, Bryce’s mom, said the family had been talking about doing something to help the community.

The video inspired Bryce. He saw that the organization gives toys to sick children to brighten their day. With his birthday coming up, Bryce told his mom all he really wanted was a pair of skates and that all of his other presents could be given to B.I.G. Love and his simple idea spiraled from there.

He said he wanted to give his presents to the organization because, “they [the patients] are about my age. They are sick. I wanted to make them feel better.”

Bryce collected gifts from all over when the word of his heart-felt donation got out. He even received a number of gifts via snail mail.

“Ms. Jessica came to my party and collected the presents,” Bryce recalled. He said it made him feel “great” and “loving” to donate his presents to the children, and he plans to do this again next year.

Bryce collected about 30 presents total and was pretty proud of that number.

B.I.G. Love maintains several toy chests at the cancer clinic weekly and operates a weekly grocery program at Arkansas and Texas Children’s Hospitals. The weekly grocery program provides all cancer kids and their families with an opportunity to request on a weekly basis special grocery or comfort items that they might desire. This enables families to obtain essential groceries, supplies and other itesm without having to leave their child or their hospital room. B.I.G. Love also provides individual and group grief support counseling sessions.

If you are inspired by Bryce’s story and would like to donate gifts or volunteer, visit their website at to learn more.

Bryce White at Home

Bryce White’s birthday wish was to donate gifts to the organization B.I.G. Love to help brighten the day of sick children because, “that’s what God would do.”