Sami Kerker, 15, chose to forgo her desire to purchase a car at 16 to fulfill the dream of homeownership for a destitute family she had never met. Investing money she had earned since the sixth-grade in tie-dye materials and clothing, Sami enlisted the support of friends and family nationwide. Sami’s goal is to raise money to build a safe, sturdy Food For The Poor house for a Nicaraguan family and to travel to see her dream realized.
“I was inspired by the Lynn University students and faculty who went to Haiti last year to try to make a difference in this poverty-stricken country,” said Sami. “To honor their work, I wanted to follow in their footsteps. That is how I decided to volunteer with Food For The Poor. ”
Motivated by her economics professor, Sami, a sophomore at Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, aspires to graduate from the International Baccalaureate (IB) program with the IB Diploma. To fulfill the required personal project, Sami created a business, Tie Dye Unique – designing and constructing the Web site to sell her merchandise. From the beginning, Sami has selflessly donated 100 percent of the profit to charity, and has already raised 75 percent of the necessary funds.
“Everybody loves tie-dye, and wants to do something to help,” said Sami. “Everyone in my Pilates class has purchased tie-dyed socks to wear to class. I am thankful for all the support I have received.”
First exposed to the tie-dying process in an eighth-grade chemistry project, Sami has mixed pounds of brightly colored dyes and wrapped hundreds of rubber bands, to create unique color combinations and patterns. Family members and friends flew to Florida – some from as faraway as Los Angeles – to help the Boca Raton teen tie-dye her way to Nicaragua.
With the dinning room table and kitchen countertops covered in newspaper and tarps, the team spent a week repeating the lengthy tie-die process approximately 474 times. With the exception of volleyball practice that week from 3 to 6 p.m., Sami perfected the spiral, random, circle, and striped tie-dye methods.
“My husband and son thought we were absolutely nuts,” said Sindee Kerker, Sami’s mother and professor of Criminal Justice at Lynn University. “Originally, we had planned to tie-dye in the garage, but it was too hot in August to work there.”
After months of selling tie-dye shirts, sweatpants and socks, the mother-daughter team will travel to Nicaragua in December to paint the house Sami is raising funds to build.
“For $3,100, I could make a difference that could last a lifetime for a special family,” said Sami, who confessed the journey will take her outside of her comfort zone. “I am hoping to sell all of my tie-dying projects by the end of the year so I can use my profits to fund a house in Nicaragua.”
To make a donation toward Sami’s initiative or to purchase your own uniquely tie-dyed merchandise, please visit her Web site.
A donation of $2,600 can provide a one-room home to a destitute family. For $1,000, a latrine and shower stall will provide housing recipients with access to proper sanitation and privacy. Proper sanitation is essential to the health and welfare of a thriving family and helps prevent life-threatening illnesses.
Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor. For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.