New Canaan teen helps victims in Japan
It becomes difficult to truly understand the magnitude of loss in Japan after the recent disaster. Sitting in the comfort of your own home watching images on the news or reading about it in the papers can never properly convey the severity of the situation.
Perhaps that perspective makes what Ryan Christie, a 16-year-old junior from New Canaan High School, is doing all the more impressive.
"Everything that they are experiencing in Japan is really terrible," he said. "A lot of people lost everything and I wanted to find a way to help."
Christie could have easily started a fundraiser and collected money, but he knew he was in a position to help in a more unique way thanks to his mom's company Ripa Wear, a company that specializes in sandals and other footwear. They are already in the process of shipping more than $2,000 worth of Himalayan sandals to the more than 350,000 homeless citizens of Japan.
Every little bit helps in a situation such as this, Christie said. He and his mother hope this act could start a chain reaction. Christie's mom, Indira Desai Christie, believes that her son's idea through Ripa Wear could possibly inspire other companies to make a commitment to help.
"Our company is a New Canaan-based company that is helping the people of Japan," she said. "This could possibly be an uplifting story or inspirational for other companies to help out too."
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Christie employed the help of an organization known as Kids In Distressed Situations (KIDS) to donate the sandals through the right channels. KIDS specializes in retail and apparel donation to underprivileged children.
"They make it really easy to donate," Christie said. "It is a great way to give back to the people who lost things we take for granted like footwear. They have donated over $65 million worth of goods to kids around the world."
In fact, KIDS has already been at the forefront in terms of helping the Japanese.
"In the hours following the record-breaking quake, KIDS alerted both its corporate and individual donors with a call for support," its website stated. "Urgently needed items, such as vitamins, water, blankets, undergarments, baby items and apparel are being collected and KIDS is working with its not-for-profit partners to ensure that shipments quickly reach affected children and families."
"YPF really helped me learn the ins and outs of different charities and philanthropy in general," he said.
The YPF program is comprised of a small group of high school students who gain experience in the grant-making process that can specifically fund certain programs and non-profit organizations that are significant to New Canaan.
"Developing philanthropic understanding, values and skills at this age can have far-reaching impact as these young adults mature into community leaders," the YPF wesbite explains. "Additionally, the participants will learn how financial contributions to a nonprofit organization make an impact and how funders evaluate which organization to support, and how agencies seek funds to support their work. They will also review grant requests and make decisions about funding local nonprofit organizations"
Needless to say, Christie was able to utilize everything he learned with the YPF to find an honest and unique charity that could carry his vision through. As a junior in high school, he plans to continue this type of mind set into college.
"I'm looking to pursue history but I definitely want to carry this philanthropic attitude into college," he said. "A whole vault of resources and organizations open up to you in college. From what I understand, now a majority of students do dedicate their time to charity. It is a great thing to do."
In an area where it is hard to fathom loss halfway around the world, Christie managed to help those in need. A great thing to do indeed.