FAIRFIELD (KPIX 5) A Fairfield sister and brother who went on a vacation a few years ago came back with an idea for a nonprofit. What they created earned them this week’s Jefferson Award.
Seventeen-year-old Sophia Anderson and her 14-year-old brother Luke enjoyed the beaches and fiestas in Mexico. But during a family vacation in 2014, they embarked on an excursion outside Puerto Vallarta that they say changed their lives.
“There was a tour of the local city garbage dump,” Sophia recalled.
“It intrigued us so we decided to go on it,” added Luke.
What they saw broke their hearts.
“There were hundreds of kids, almost none of them had any shoes or clothing,” said Sophia.
“There’s broken glass, dirty mucky water,” Luke remembered. “We thought, ‘This isn’t a way for a human to live.'”
Sophia and Luke could not get the experience out of their minds.
They talked with their parents about what they could do to make a difference.
The next day, they brought ice cream to the children in the city dump.
And once they returned home to Fairfield, the Anderson siblings founded a nonprofit to improve the kids’ lives.
The name of the nonprofit was inspired by one of the ice cream recipients.
“A boy came up to me with his cup and says, ‘Para ti.’ ‘For you,'” said Sophia. “And that’s where we got the name Para Ti Global because he showed me selflessness and it inspired me to do the same.”
So far, Para Ti Global has taken more than a dozen trips to Mexico.
It’s also sent donations to the Philippines and Cuba.
Through their nonprofit, Sophia and Luke have given away about two tons of clothes, toiletries, food, school supplies, and even fidget spinners to more than 7,000 children.
Donations from individuals and businesses fill half the Anderson family’s garage.
Fitness director D.J. Dansereau said U.F.C. Gym is honored to contribute thousands of dollars in goods each year.
“And for two individuals at their age to step up and say we want to make a difference, I think that’s the biggest amount of courage somebody could have,” Dansereau said.
Sophia, a Carondelet High School senior, and Luke, a De La Salle High freshman, also use monetary donations toward care for disabled children and afterschool programs in Mexico.
The financial contributions also fund hot meals in the Philippines.
The brother and sister both aspire to become doctors.
Sophia plans to be a physician like their father.
Luke wants to be a cardiothoracic surgeon.
Both say they are committed to ending poverty, especially among children.
“They’re not alone in this world,” Sophia explained.
The pair also learned something about the difference one person can make in the world.
“Everyone can make a difference,” Luke concluded. “Any little thing can help.”
So for founding a nonprofit to improve the lives of children in poverty, this week’s Jefferson Award in the Bay Area goes to Sophia and Luke Anderson.