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First grader raises money for Japan tsunami victims
Meideros kid pic
Medeiros Elementary first grader Marissa Reyes stands by money collection cans and a presentation board she is taking around to classes in order to raise money for the American Red Cross to help tsunami victims in Japan. - photo by JONATHAN MCCORKELL / The Journal

Marissa Reyes, a first grader at Medeiros Elementary in Turlock, proves that you can never be too young to care about the world.

A few months ago Marissa approached her mother and father, Laura and Manuel, about the possibility of raising money for the American Red Cross. At first her parents thought it was a great idea but they dismissed it as just something Marissa would bring up to her teacher at school. After all, it isn’t every day a 6-year-old is that socially aware.

Little did they know that Marissa was absolutely serious and had an entire plan to be carried out on campus. Around this time the tsunami hit and Marissa took charge to raise money for the victims in Japan.

“I really just thought she was just going to mention it to her teacher. She did and then she just took full ownership of it. She told me she wanted to help people who don’t have all the things that she has,” said Laura.

Marissa approached her teacher, Tanya White, and soon they had placed nine money collection cans in classes throughout campus. With some help from her mother, Marissa created a presentation board and she visits classes on campus requesting help for her cause.

When it comes to her belief in helping people Marissa puts her money where her mouth is; she kicked off her campaign by donating $37 (from chores) and another $20 from birthday and tooth fairy money. She also hit up her neighbors, family and family friends. So far, her mom said she has raised $60.

The cans on campus will be collected on March 30.

Marissa’s mother is not sure where her social awareness is coming from. The Reyes family is like most families, they care about world issues but aren’t necessarily activists.

“We watch the news and we pray for the people in Japan, but nothing more than that,” explained Laura. “I’m so very proud of her, there aren’t enough words. This is just so selfless of her.”

White is equally as proud and has seen Marissa’s caring nature in the classroom.

“She is very driven and she always wants to help other students,” she said. “Her little slogan is ‘every little voice can make a difference.’” 

Marissa has a very simple explanation for her recent philanthropic mission.

“Because I knew that something bad is happening to the people in Japan. I saw all their stuff broken,” she said.

As part of her fundraising effort, Marissa also wrote a letter to Medeiros parents.

“My name is Marissa Reyes. I am a first grader in Mrs. White’s class. I would like to invite you to raise money for the American Red Cross. I wanted to collect money for the community but then Japan had an earthquake and tsunami. A lot of people there lost their homes. So, I think they need our help.“The Red Cross helps people by giving them food, shelter and tools. The volunteers help find people that are missing. Help is given to everyone. Doctors and nurses volunteer to help with medical attention like first aid, too.“I will put a can in my classroom and around our school for any money you would like to donate. It will be turned into the Red Cross and they will make sure the people of Japan get the help they need. The last day we will be collecting money is Wednesday, March 30. We all can make a difference. Thank You, Marissa”

If you would like to donate to the American Red Cross through Marissa Reyes’ efforts at Medeiros call the school at 668-9600.

To contact Jonathan McCorkell, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.