Shelton second grader helps organize city-wide Ukraine fundraiser

SHELTON — Emilia Moe is proof you are never too young to make a difference in people’s lives.

The second grader at Elizabeth Shelton School recently wrote a letter to Principal Jamie Weber, asking if the school could hold a benefit to aid the people of Ukraine. That simple request set in motion the events that resulted in the city-wide school pajama day fundraiser Friday at all the elementary schools.

Emilia’s class raised $180 on Friday. All money raised will go to UNICEF, which is directly supporting Ukraine’s students and families.

“Wow, I never thought this would happen,” Emilia said. “All I wanted was for the kids to see what I did and maybe they could do something for others, too.”

She said she wanted to demonstrate that age needn’t be an impediment to doing good works.

“I really wanted was for kids in school to know you’re not too small to change the world and make a difference and show the kids what you’re made of,” she said.

Emilia’s mother, Mollie, said none of this comes as a surprise. Her daughter has always been one to consider other’s feelings and help out whenever possible.

“(Emilia) told me she wanted to do something at school but wasn’t sure what,” Mollie said. “When she came home and told us she wrote a letter to Mrs. Weber and delivered it to the office, we were so happy she was confident enough to find her voice and felt empowered to write and deliver the letter.”

She described Emilia as “a compassionate, soulful, and kind kid” and said the family was “proud but not surprised she had this idea.”

Weber said Emilia’s letter touched her heart, and she then held a meeting with the youngster to talk about what could be done. That is when the idea for a pajama day was born.

“The fact that she did it on her own is incredible and speaks to her heart as well as her upbringing,” Weber said. “As soon as I saw it, I knew I had to act. We immediately sat down and created the fundraiser.

“Emilia said she knows everyone loves to come school in pj's so that's what we decided,” Weber added. “I took the note she wrote and used it in the flyer. I then tweeted at the other elementary principals to see if they were interested and they were.”

The grade level that raises the most money will get extra recess, Weber said.

“I am so proud of all our Rising Stars and what they try to do for others each and every day,” Weber added.

Weber then reached out to the principals of the city’s other elementary schools, all of whom jumped on board and held similar events at their schools Friday.

Mollie said Emilia was “beyond excited” when she learned the school had embraced her idea.

“I don’t think she expected that opportunity to come to fruition because it was the first time she had done something like that,” Mollie said.

Mollie, whose uncle’s family comes from Ukraine, said Emilia overheard she and her husband, Alex, talking about Russia’s invasion of the Eastern European nation when it first happened late last month.

“She’s an inquisitive kid,” Mollie said, “so she asked what is happening in Ukraine. We were hesitant as to how much to disclose so we explained it as Russia being a big bully who attacked Ukraine because they wanted something Ukraine has.

She said addressing global issues on a developmentally appropriate level was a find line to walk, “But we want our children to be aware.”

Mollie said she and her husband could not be prouder of Emilia’s push for the benefit event.

“She genuinely loves to help others,” Mollie said. “We try to raise our children to develop agency for themselves and impact in their community. She will help out around the house without asking. This winter she helped shovel out our elderly neighbor’s driveway, and she is the oldest child among our friend group, so she often takes the role of mother hen making sure the younger ones are taken care of.”

brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com