Eleven-year-old Kapri Griffeth found a creative, and socially distant, way to donate $50 to United Way of Aroostook's Athena Hallowell as part of her recent Birthday Giving Challenge. Credit: Courtesy of Billi Griffeth | Star-Herald

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — When Kapri Griffeth turned 11 on April 28 her mother, Billi Griffeth, challenged her to donate $50 to the United Way of Aroostook, one of many organizations faced with challenging times during the COVID-19 pandemic.

That initial donation inspired the mother and daughter to post a Facebook video in which Kapri challenged folks to donate to whatever nonprofit organizations and agencies are near and dear to them. To their surprise, many people began sending Kapri money to donate on their behalf.

Kapri’s Birthday Giving Challenge has since raised $736 from more than 20 individuals and she has personally donated funds or supplies to United Way of Aroostook, Aroostook County Action Program, Wintergreen Arts Center, Nordic Heritage Center and the Sister Mary O’Donnell Homeless Shelter. She used some of the money to purchase diapers for families in need and food for ACAP’s Community Cupboard.

Several of the organizations involve causes that Kapri is especially passionate about. She regularly attends Wintergreen art classes and events and wanted to support the staff and volunteers as they continue online instruction. To the Nordic Heritage Center, she presented a check of $111 in memory of family friend Tom Chasse.

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“People really need us right now and it’ll make the community a better place if we help them,” said Kapri Griffeth.

The Birthday Giving Challenge has inspired many people to donate money, food and other supplies to organizations in their area. People have responded to Facebook posts saying that they’ve donated to food pantries and the Central Aroostook Humane Society, and given “thank you” meals to the SAD 1 staff members who have delivered meals to students since schools closed under COVID-19 precautions.

Though the challenge is a far cry from Kapri’s original, pre-pandemic birthday plans — a trip to Bangor with friends — Billi Griffeth said she is amazed by how her daughter has motivated people to help those in need.

“She is the most caring and generous person and her actions completely mirror who she is as a person,” Billi Griffeth said. “I think that during trying times, people need to be reminded of the good that exists in other people.”

Kapri plans to continue the challenge for as long as she can and said she might start a lemonade stand this summer to raise more money. She encourages people to reach out to her mother’s Facebook page if they have questions about donating.

“I want everyone to know that they can make a difference, even if they’re a kid,” she said.