CINCINNATI -- Last September, 10-year-old Lizzy Teets had a dream that the world was a giant homeless shelter where no one knew how to read.
“It’s why they couldn’t go out in the world and do anything,” she said. “I panicked when I woke up because it could happen. I decided I wanted to help make sure kids got an early start so the next generation learns how to read.”
The rising fifth-grader at Summerside Elementary School in the West Clermont Local School District set out to do just that. First, she chose a charity to support: Child Focus Inc. in Clermont County, a nonprofit agency that provides early learning, mental health, school, foster care and community services, where she had attended day care when she was younger.
Then, Lizzy learned from her mom, Jennifer Teets, how to sew pillowcases and started asking for donations of books and fabric from friends and family, deciding to pair pillowcases with books and bookmarks so kids would be cozy on pillowcases made out of fun fabrics while they read before bed.
She also decided on a name for her charity: Sweet Dreams by Lizzy.
“I wanted to call it something so people would take it seriously,” she said.
Starting in February, Lizzy began sewing pillowcases and making bookmarks on the weekends and after school, packaging one pillowcase with one bookmark and one book. Once she had assembled 40 packages, she began making deliveries to the Child Focus locations in Mt. Carmel and Mt. Orab.
To date, with her mom’s sewing and driving help, Lizzy has donated around 120 packages.
“Lizzy has the biggest heart,” said Tara Keith, director of marketing and development for Child Focus. “I think it’s great to have a young person over the school year and through the summer have the heart and desire to do things for others who are less fortunate and to inspire literacy in young people.”
Jennifer Teets said there is no limit to her daughter’s aspirations.
“I think it’s amazing that she came up with the idea, but it’s overwhelming at times, too, because I need to keep up with what she wants to do," Jennifer Teets said. "There are so many kids who need this. There’s no end to what she could do with enough donations. Luckily, we’ve been getting them. A little girl from down the street just dropped off a load of books.”
In February, friends and family gathered at a local Michaels store for a sew-in to sew pillowcases for Lizzy's cause. They’re planning another one for September. Lizzy's school also held a book drive in honor of Sweet Dreams by Lizzy this past spring, sending her home with five boxes of books to add to her donation inventory.
Lizzy is now working with her mom to establish Sweet Dreams by Lizzy as a 501(c)(3) organization, and recently set up a bank account at Park National Bank in Eastgate, as well as a PayPal account, so people can make financial donations.
Lizzy also is considering expanding her volunteer work to help Clermont Senior Services — a nonprofit, she said, that is always in need of pillowcases, pillows and blankets.
Before that happens, though, she’s going to be honored for what she’s already accomplished.
On Aug. 5, Teets will receive Child Focus’ Encourage the Heart Youth Leadership Award, which honors young leaders in the community who inspire others to service, Keith said.
If you’d like to support Sweet Dreams by Lizzy, you can make a monetary donation by mail to Park National Bank, 4550 Eastgate Blvd., Cincinnati, OH 45245 or by calling the bank at 513-753-0900 for the benefit of Sweet Dreams by Lizzy. You can also send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to donate using PayPal. If you’d like to donate fabric or books, message “Sweet Dreams by Lizzy” on Facebook.