Tazara gives up birthday gifts to help others at Christmas
For her daughter's birthday Kleita Pitcher made out a guest list and was about to book a restaurant, but Tazara had other plans.
The seven-year-old insisted that the few friends her mother intended to invite wouldn’t be enough.
The Somersfield Academy student was concerned by the number of people in Bermuda that were going to sleep hungry, and wanted to build on the tremendous success she had last year when friends and family gave her non-perishable foods rather than gifts; bags and bags of items earmarked for the needy, were handed over to the Family Centre.
"This year her birthday party, originally it was supposed to be smaller – a lunch and activities – but she said she would rather have something where more people could help, more people could donate," Ms Pitcher said.
Tazara's godmother suggested a drive-through event. About fifty children turned up at Somersfield with tins and boxes of food on December 12.
The donations filled three cars; Ms Pitcher dropped them off at the King Street, Hamilton charity the following day.
"Tazara got a huge response. It took us two taxis to get to the Family Centre plus my car," she said, adding that a few donations – one of which was a 25lb turkey – came in later.
"Also, somebody donated two gift certificates for Empire Grocery meals which come with turkey and [other] items to make a Christmas meal. There was a lot of stuff."
Ms Pitcher herself donated more than $800 worth of items she bought from Butterfield & Vallis so that her "money would go further". The wholesalers gave her a discount on her purchases and added $100 worth of items to her pile.
An e-mail she received on Tazara's birthday, December 2, lifted her spirits further.
A Clearwater Middle School teacher, whose son is a classmate of Tazara's, wrote to say her students wanted to get involved.
"They couldn’t believe someone that young would do something like that and they asked to contribute. So they also prepared a box and two bags of groceries. I thought it was so amazing that they were willing to help," Ms Pitcher said.
To show her appreciation for just how "selfless" they were with their gifts, she sent a pizza lunch for the students to enjoy.
"I don’t think people who have contributed will realise how much they have helped until they see the pictures of all that we received," she said.
Ms Pitcher said she is constantly amazed by her daughter's strong desire to help others.
"After we [delivered everything to the Family Centre] I was giving her her bath and told her I was extremely proud to be her mom and she broke down; she cried buckets of tears for about 20 minutes. But she explained to me, 'Mummy these are happy tears because I know people aren’t going to be hungry.'“
Moved, Ms Pitcher called a friend who pointed out that it was just Tazara's "way of showing love".
"It's unreal to me. Sometimes it freaks me out because [this is] how she's visualising the world.
"For a [kid] who has just gone seven ….it's beyond words. It's definitely a place within her soul and her heart that this is coming from. She just wants to help people."
In July Tazara stood outside the Shopping Centre on Victoria Street for two hours, selling Cup Match ribbons as part of a Family Centre fundraiser.
Five months later she is back at work for the cause.
"The environment keeps her mindful," her mother said. "She sees people on the streets now and realises these people don’t have a home and of course she's figured out that with no home, nine times out of ten they're hungry. I guess it's even more around us than we think."
At Somersfield, poverty is discussed as a way of "letting the kids know what's going on within our community and the world".
"And we talk about it at home quite often," Ms Pitcher said. "Still, it's even difficult for me to understand as a parent [why she does what she does even though] I really see that it's in her, it's coming from her heart."
Despite that Ms Pitcher says she is mindful that Tazara is still quite young and should be enjoying her youth.
"I don’t want it to take away from her childhood. I'm a parent and I'm very vigilant and so we will do it as long as she says she feels happy doing it. As a parent, I am here to support her until she says she doesn’t want to do it any longer.
"But at the moment it's what she would like to do. It's not harming anybody, it's something positive. So I'm trying to give her as much support as I can. I asked her [the morning after her party] would you do this next year? You're not getting any gifts for yourself. And she said, 'Yes mummy this is what I want to do.' She was very clear about it. She said, 'I get gifts at Christmas so I'm fine. I just don’t want people to be hungry.'"
Tazara Pitcher staged a fundraiser for the Family Centre this month.
The Somersfield Academy student asked for food instead of gifts for her seventh birthday. Three cars were filled with items which were delivered to the Family Centre on December 13.
“Family Centre is highly grateful for Tazara’s incredible act of kindness to our families in need. Tazara truly cares for the welfare of others. She wanted to ensure that families in need at the Family Centre had sufficient food during this holiday season, and she made this happen,” said Susan Richardson, the charity’s director of counselling services.
The groceries made a huge difference to many of the families in the charity’s Community Outreach programme.
“It has been a slow season at the hotel, and I didn’t think the kids and I would have a good Christmas,” said one recipient. “Thanks to your generous donation, things look better now, and I’m more motivated to make sure the kids have a good Christmas!”