By Celine Klosterman
NORTH ENGLISH – Eleven-year-old Isabella Fisher was so moved by an appeal that a Nigerian missionary priest made at St. Joseph Church, she led a fundraising drive that brought in $267.
That total was more than a quarter of the $800 her parish sent to the Missionary Society of St. Paul last month after Father Martin Eke, MSP, spoke during Mass Sept. 8 in North English.
“Our missionaries are in Malawi, where they care for orphans,” said Father Felix Osasona, director of the MSP Mission Development Office in Houston. “We have a community school in Nigeria which helps to educate children who otherwise will not have an opportunity to go to school. Many of them cannot even pay their tuition fees of $30! The school is maintained largely through donations we get from friends and appeals.”
St. Joseph’s took up a second collection during the Mass at which Fr. Eke spoke. But on the way home from church, Isabella told her dad, Jeremy Fisher, they needed to do more. They came up with a can drive, which her religious education teacher Barb Jackson agreed to help promote.
Over the next few weeks, parishioners brought cans to religious education classes or left them in the church in a box, which the Fishers took to a can redemption center. In response to flyers and Facebook posts about the drive, supporters also gave money.
“The biggest check was $50 in the mail, which tickled Isabella silly,” said the sixth-grader’s mother, Heather Fisher.
In all, the drive raised $266.95, said Jackson, the parish’s secretary. “I just about cried. I was so proud of her.”
“I was really surprised,” Isabella said.
Fr. Osasona finds her story inspiring. “What a joy that an 11-year-old girl will take up the challenge of raising funds to support other children around the world,” he said. “I commend her for her sense of care and concern for others.”
“She asked Jeremy and me if we could do this every month,” Heather said.
Whether or not they do so, the family will continue enjoying other forms of charity. Isabella and her siblings Braydon and Kristen “get really excited when we clean out closets and give toys to Goodwill,” their mom said.
That reaction is characteristic of Isabella – whom Jackson described as a bubbly, outgoing, funny youth with a good heart.
“I hope she continues to do things like this can drive,” Heather said. “It looks bright for her future.”