When Naomi Martin was three years old, she approached her mother with a rather unusual idea.
“‘I want to have a coloring recital,’ she said. ‘It’s where people can come and watch how good I can color,’” Naomi’s mother, Sarah Martin recalled. Naomi, now 12, dreamed of renting a theater in their hometown of Hamilton, Ont., to host all the people who would come from far and wide to watch her color.
Initially Sarah laughed off the idea. That is, until Naomi connected the idea to helping others.
Around that time, MCC service workers came to speak at the family’s church, The Meeting House, about the impact of HIV and AIDS around Africa. Sarah recalled that Naomi was shocked to learn children could lose their parents and resolved to help them.
“We could give the money to kids in Africa who don’t have parents so they can buy grandparents,” recalled Sarah with a laugh.
“When it turned from ‘they can come and watch me’ to ‘helping other people,’ that’s when my husband and I started taking it seriously. We wanted to be intentional about encouraging those types of character qualities in our kids.”
Eight years later, Naomi’s coloring recital is an annual event and has raised more than CA$10,000 for MCC projects around Africa. She supports projects that involve HIV and AIDS-affected children, but the type of project differs from year to year. Sometimes the project is education related, other times health related.
“It’s just fun and it’s nice to know you’re impacting the world in a positive way,” Naomi said.
She’s influencing her peers as well.
A boy in her class started growing food in his backyard for the local food bank after seeing people digging through garbage and recycling bins, looking for things to sell for food. “He was really distraught at the fact that these people didn’t have food. He started Oliver’s Garden Project where he’s growing food in his backyard for the local food bank,” Sarah said.
“Naomi’s coloring recital just got people more aware that kids could do things for charity, too. It’s about using their gifts, abilities and interests to use in their sphere of influence.”
Over the years, Naomi’s teachers have involved other students in the recitals.
Naomi is planning a ninth coloring recital to take place on March 18 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Hamilton Association for Residential and Recreational Redevelopment Programs (HARRRP) in Hamilton, Ont. She plans to continue hosting the fundraisers in the years to come.