Sara Foley learned a lot about what it means to survive on very little from her little brother, who is adopted from Ethiopia.
Her brother Amanuel, 12, joined the Foley family four years ago, Sara said.
“He was less fortunate. ... He didn’t get toys for Christmas or anything for Christmas,” she said of Amanuel. “He was in an orphanage. Less fortunate people should deserve equal, because we are all one.”
To help those in need in her community, Sara organizes a winter clothing drive and collects new and used hats, gloves, coats and blankets for the homeless.
“I just felt like we were so lucky and warm in the winter because it got so cold here in Illinois that other people should have the same chance to stay warm during the winter,” said Sara, who is a seventh-grader at St. Teresa Catholic School in Belleville.
This year marked the third year Sara has done the drive, which has grown every year.
The clothing items collected are handed out the Saturday before Christmas at a breakfast held at St. Peter Cathedral in Belleville.
This year Sara collected 300 items. “When it first started, we didn’t get as many,” she said. “A lot of people donate that don’t go to St. Teresa.”
Less fortunate people should deserve equal, because we are all one.
Sara Foley, seventh-grader at St. Teresa School in Belleville
When she gets older, Sara wants to teach history to grade school students. She hopes to inspire young people like one of her favorite teachers — Jamie Dedmon.
“Ms. Dedmon, she’s an awesome teacher,” Sara said. “I think other kids should have teachers as good as Ms. Dedmon ... She connects with the students and makes class seem less boring.”
Dedmon had high praise for Sara describing her as “enthusiastic, eager to learn, ambitious, very gifted and very generous.”
“I think she will make a fabulous teacher,” Dedmon said of Sara. “She’s kindhearted, compassionate and knows how to work with people at different age levels. ... She’s very poised and proper.”
Q: How did it feel when you donated the clothing items to those in need?
A: “A lot of people were really excited to get new things. The little kids always get more stuff and toys. They are always running around, excited with the new toys they have. There’s usually this one lady who comes and tries to get matching pink stuff. ... It makes you feel really good inside. This is what God wanted you to do with your life — to help others.”
Q: What advice do you have for other kids who are hesitant to launch a big project like yours?
A: “You just have to get your parents involved. They can help you a lot. My mom and dad help me do it. ... Even if you don’t think it will work, anybody will be thankful for anything they can get.”
Q: What was it like visiting Ethiopia when Amanuel joined your family?
A: “It was a good experience. There was a lot of people on the streets with their animals. ... We played soccer. We went to a lot of museums, and we saw the bones of Lucy (a collection of fossilized bones).”
Q: Does your family plan to travel back to Ethiopia?
A: “We plan to go when Amanuel gets older.”
Q: What has having an adopted brother taught you about life?
A: “He talks about his life. He tells a lot of stories. But he’s a brother, so he’s still annoying sometimes. He likes to talk about the trees and his grandmother’s farm and all his friends in the orphanage. We go meet one of his friends from the orphanage that lives in Seattle.”
Q: You play soccer, volleyball, basketball and track, which one is your favorite?
A: “Soccer. You can make it your own and do special things.”
Q: What soccer teams do you plan on?
A: “Missouri State Team (a select team) and Sporting St. Louis.”
Q: Where do you plan to go to high school?
A: “It’s either Althoff (in Belleville), Gibault (in Waterloo) or West (in Belleville).”
Q: What got you interested in teaching history?
A: “I just like history, all the people and what they’ve been through.” (The Medieval Times is her favorite time period)
Meet Sara Foley
- Age: 13
- School: Seventh-grader at St. Teresa Catholic School in Belleville
- Parents: Jennifer and Ames Foley
- Siblings: Samuel, 15, freshman who attends Belleville West, and Amanuel, 12, fifth-grader who also attends St. Teresa
- Pets: Three dogs — Spot, Tyra and Peanut
- School activities: Scholar Bowl, National Junior Honor Society and Junior St. Vincent de Paul
- Sports: soccer, volleyball, basketball and track
- Favorite class: P.E. and history
- Least favorite class: Math
- Favorite TV show: “Psych”
- Favorite food: Pizza
- Favorite restaurant: Olga’s