BELLEVUE — Like most 9-year-olds, Arya Shefchik has a lot of hobbies. She likes painting rocks, playing the piano and playing with friends.
Arya, the daughter of Jay and Sara Shefchik, also likes to help other people. Most recently, she made and sold bracelets to help her parish, Prince of Peace, sponsor a food packaging event coordinated by Feed My Starving Children.
Deacon Jeff Prickette, pastoral leader at Prince of Peace, said he was approached by a couple in the parish about hosting a Feed My Starving Children packaging event. It required hundreds of volunteers and thousands of dollars to fund.
“This couple said whatever we didn’t raise, they would pick up the difference, so we decided to go ahead with it,” said Deacon Prickette.
Through the parish religious education program’s Lenten almsgiving project, Arya decided to make bracelets to support the food packaging event. Last year, Arya and her mother and sister, Quinn, 6, made and sold bath bombs to benefit a farming and irrigation project in Cameroon, so she already had experience with helping others.
“This year, we decided on bracelets,” said Arya’s mother. “They are a little less messy, and bracelets are kind of popular right now.”
The bracelets are made of waxed cord in various colors. They feature a cross or beads in the center and are adjustable with a slip knot. “It took about 10 minutes to make one bracelet,” said Arya. The project began around Jan. 1 and continued as orders came in, said her mother.
The bracelets were sold in pairs, said Arya, and they were fastened to a sheet of brown paperboard. Each paperboard included a passage from 1 Corinthians: “Faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
“On the back it says, ‘Thank you for supporting my Lenten almsgiving project. 100% of your payment will be donated,’” said Arya. Her mother had the parish’s logo printed on the back, and it included an invitation to join the parish for weekend Mass. “Prince of Peace is a special place and we’d love it if you’d join us at Mass!” the card reads.
To help publicize the sale of bracelets, Arya’s mom posted photos and information on her Facebook page. “I made a video on my mom’s Facebook explaining what I was doing,” added Arya.
Each card sold for $6. “We sold 120 cards,” she said.
Arya presented a check to Deacon Prickette on April 1. “He acted surprised because he thought I was only going to raise like $100 to $250, but I raised $1,000,” said Arya.
“She came in during the week with her mom and sister,” recalled Deacon Prickette. “They just said, ‘We have a gift for the parish.’ She gave me the check and she was just beaming from ear to ear. She worked hard on this with her mom and raised $1,000 doing it.”
Deacon Prickette said Arya is great example of a young missionary disciple.
“She is just a wonderful young lady and she serves at Mass,” he said. “She comes from a wonderful family and she has a heart for God, she really does.”
Her heart for God runs in the family. According to Sara, Arya is a distant relative of Adele Brise, to whom the Blessed Mother appeared in 1857. “I grew up near Champion and (Brise) was my great-great grandma Duchateau’s aunt,” said Sara.
Arya said finding ways to help other people “feels really amazing.”
Deacon Prickette said the Feed My Starving Children packaging event was planned for the weekend of Palm Sunday. “They will not start doing meal packaging offsite until at least Aug. 1,” he said. “So I hope we can pull this off sometime in the fall.”
Like all other children, Arya, who is a fourth grader at McAuliffe Elementary School in Green Bay, does her school work from home. “It’s been kind of boring,” she said. “Half of the day I’m just sitting in a chair and being bored because it’s hard to get my friend to come over because she has a little more schoolwork than I do.”
Another friend’s mother “works at a hospital and she had to be a nurse for one of the coronavirus people, and so we can’t really play,” she added.
Arya’s next hands-on project might include painting rocks, she said.
“I gave one to my neighbor and her rock says ‘Love anchors the soul.’ I drew the outline of the anchor and colored it in blue. She has a new cottage by the lake and she put it down by the cottage,” said Arya.