Third-grader raises money for Helen Keller Center

Third-grader raises money for Helen Keller Center
Sophie Markowitz, 7, with Helen Keller Nation Center Executive Director Sue Ruzenski. Sophie held a bake sale to raise money for the center. (Photo courtesy of Peggy Kalia)

When most children set up a bake sale or lemonade stand on a hot summer day, they are looking to earn a little extra spending money. But when Sophie Markowitz of Port Washington sold cookies last week, she had something else in mind.

“I read a book about Helen Keller and I liked it,” said the 7-year-old. “I went past the [Helen Keller National Center in Sands Point] when I dropped my brothers off at camp. I thought it was amazing what the kids there can do.”

So Markowitz decided to sell cookies, brownies and lemonade to raise money for the center. With a friend from her class at John J. Daly Elementary School, she set up a booth on Longview Road to peddle homemade baked goods.

“The street was pretty busy and they were flagging down cars in both directions,” said Carole Markowitz, Sophie’s mother.

At the end of a busy day, Sophie had raised $100.

Carole called the Helen Keller National Center for Deaf-Blind Youths and Adults soon after asking how they could donate the money. Given the unusual nature of the donation — the center does not often receive money from 7-year-olds — Sophie was soon in touch with the center’s executive director, Sue Ruzenski.

“This really was a gift from the heart,” Ruzenski said. “And any donation is appreciated.”

Ruzenski invited Sophie and her family to tour the center and get an idea what her donation would be going toward. Along with her mother and two younger brothers, Sophie visited the independent living training center, the kitchen, and an arts and crafts room.

A highlight for her was the Perkins Brailler, a Braille typewriter.

“They wrote my name and my brothers’ names and my mom’s name and my dad’s name,” Sophie said. “They also taught me sign language so I can say ‘good morning.'”

Allison Burrows led the tour of the facility.

“Sophie was very interested in everything we showed her,” she said. At the end of the tour, Sophie gave Ruzenski the check. Ruzenski said the money will be used by the students for recreational activities.

When asked if she will hold another fundraiser for the center, Sophie said she was not sure. She did say that she planned to attend the Helen Keller 5K Run/Walk, which the center holds every April to raise money.

“To see someone so young who thinks about others and has a generous spirit, it is really incredible,” Ruzenski said.  “It is meaningful for me and it is meaningful for the people here as well.” 

Reach reporter Luke Torrance by email at [email protected], by phone at 516-307-1045, ext. 214, or follow him on Twitter @LukeATorrance.

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