Eliza Liebowitz has been involved in charity work since the age of 5, starting with a simple lemonade stand to raise money for the Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons. Now a freshman in high school, her efforts have expanded beyond Long Island and reached a new community in need over 5,000 miles away.
On Feb. 6, Turkey and Northern Syria were hit with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. As Liebowitz watched the news unfold, she recognized how devastating the earthquake was and how many people did not have access to medical supplies to treat injuries sustained from the disaster.
“I just immediately wanted to take action and help people,” Eliza said.
In response, she planned and conducted an emergency medical supply drive through her charity organization, Clean Your Closets Out For Children, to help the earthquake victims. For two weeks in February, she collected medical supplies to be donated to those affected by the earthquake.
Eliza had to move quickly for this project, but she said that’s how it has to be because you can “never predict horrible things happening in the world.
To get the project going, she presented her idea to the Village of East Hills mayor and board of trustees to get their approval and involvement. While any young teenager may have been intimidated to speak in front of the board, Eliza said she was not worried in the slightest because she knew them all so personally. The village agreed to partner with Eliza in her efforts.
She also partnered with Temple Sinai of Roslyn, where she is a member and which sent an email blast to the congregation about the project and how they could participate.
Two collection boxes were then established for donations, one at the East Hills Village Hall and one at the temple.
Eliza provided community members with a wish list of items to donate. Donations included wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, canes, shower chairs, commodes, braces, slings, medical boots, neck braces, casting materials, catheters, first aid kits and assorted wound care items.
By the end of the two weeks, the donations filled half of a large box truck.
“It felt like I was juggling a lot at once, but it was very rewarding,” Eliza said.
She partnered with The AFYA Foundation, which collected the donations. AFYA is a non-profit organization that provides medical supplies globally to communities without access.
The organization, based in Yonkers, N.Y., will then sort through the donations at its warehouse. Once done, the group will work with the Turkish Embassy to deliver the supplies to those in need.
Right now, the donations from Eliza and the Roslyn community are still undergoing sorting and organizing by AFYA.
Eliza said she has noticed a gap in her community’s efforts to conduct charity initiatives, and she wanted to be the person to bridge that gap. She said that she has been very fortunate in her life and wants to utilize her position to help others.
While her charity work started with lemonade stands, it wasn’t until she coordinated her mitzvah project that it became a regular component of her life.
For Eliza’s mitzvah project, she and a family friend worked with the local food bank to host raffles to raise money and collected food donations.
Through working with the food bank, Eliza said she gained a greater sense of community. She attributed the drive’s success to the efforts of her fellow community members coming together to contribute to her charity project.
“I just realized how much one community could do if everyone works together,” Eliza said. “I thought it would be a missed opportunity to not try to use that for good and all sorts of different charities and purposes.”
In October, Eliza founded her charity organization Clean Your Closets Out For Children, also known as Triple C New York.
The mission of her organization is to collect donations of items no longer used and provide them to children experiencing poverty, illness, natural disasters or war. Eliza said this also gives items a second life and diverts them from landfills.
Since a top priority of her charity is aiding children in need, Eliza ensured the children of Turkey and Syria were not forgotten during her recent medical supply drive. Among the plethora of medical supplies donated, she made sure there were children’s bandages with recognizable characters like Baby Shark and Mickey Mouse that would “make children happy in such a hard time for them.”
Eliza said it’s important to cater to the needs of children when collecting donations and planning for disaster relief because they tend to be forgotten in the chaos of situations. She said she wanted to have a balance in supplies donated for everyone of all ages when collecting for the earthquake relief.
Going forward, Eliza is continuing her efforts with her charity organization. She said she will keep up with the news to find any potential areas where she can step in to help.
“I’ve always just wanted to make an impact and charity is my way of doing that,” Eliza said.