Teenager's organization helps feed the hungry
It all started when then-9-year-old Karin Olivo saw an infomercial on TV. It was the first time she realized how badly kids in the Dominican Republic were starving.
"They had bloated stomachs and there were flies all around," Karin told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps. "I saw the horrible environment and shelter they were living in."
Six years later, in June 2009, the Olivo family went on a trip to the Dominican Republic. Karin was shocked by the incredible poverty. It opened her eyes to the problems in third world nations. The whole family came back changed.
Karin wanted to do something to help the people she saw suffering. So with the help of her family and friends, Karin started Operation DREAM, which stands for Dominican Republic Emergency Aid Mission.
The mission of Operation DREAM is to deliver hope by feeding those who are hungry, both in body and in spirit. It also strives to inspire young people to dream big by empowering them to make a difference in their world.
"I have this heart-wrenching feeling when I see the poor people [of the Dominican Republic]," Karin said. "That just really got to me—what a good life I have here and what a poor life they lead and I want to make their lives better."
For their first effort, Karin and her family sent food to the region. Five tons of hunger relief supplies were delivered to the Dominican Republic in December 2009.
Now 15, Karin continues her efforts. She speaks at schools in her community about the hunger problem in the Dominican Republic. Students have responded generously by contributing to the program.
In July 2010, the Olivo family went on another mission trip to support the orphanages they were sponsoring. With the help of local villagers, the family built seven bunk beds, replaced 35 mattresses, installed a water pump, and built a swing set.
"On both of our trips, these people were so happy to get everything that we delivered," Karin said.
Karin is now hosting a big food drive called "Adopt-a-Box." She gives cardboard boxes to families to fill with canned food and rice. Operation DREAM needs to fill 125 boxes to meet its goal of 10,000 pounds of food by this Christmas.
The Adopt-a-Box program is part of Karin's vision for the growth of Operation DREAM.
"I see Operation DREAM in more orphanages and slums," Karin explained. "I see more people stepping out and helping us."
Find out more on the Operation DREAM website.
KIDS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Scholastic's newest team of Kid Reporters take a look at what young people around the country are doing to help out the less fortunate this holiday season in the Kids Make a Difference Special Report.
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