Girl chases dream to benefit Thai orphanage

Ellie Schaub, 7, pictured with her American Girl doll Kit, is raising money to help build a playroom for an orphanage in Thailand. Photo by Courtney Kuhlen | ckuhlen@ourcoloradonews.com
Photo
Posted

A family tradition of reaching out took on new meaning for a Castle Rock family when the oldest daughter came of age. The only surprise was mom and dad didn’t expect it to happen when she was just 7 years old. 

Ellie Schaub grew up joining her parents reach out to a Thai orphanage as part of the family’s longtime ministry. Nate and Shanea Schaub began their outreach to Thailand in 2001, traveling there four times since the early days of their marriage.

The couple hosted teams of high school and college students on mission trips to Thailand and has long sponsored Dow, a Thai orphan who, through letters and Skype visits, has become an extended member of their family.

Ellie Schaub was 7 years old when she told her parents she wanted to do more than write letters to Dow, and asked how else the family could help the orphanage. Those kitchen table conversations spawned the idea for a lemonade stand, where Ellie’s first effort raised about $32 to send to the Kids Life Children’s Home in Fang, Thailand.

Working off of a wish list sent by the kids at the orphanage, Ellie eventually decided she wanted to build the girls at the home an indoor/outdoor playroom. In Ellie’s design, the playroom would have a kitchen area, art station, outdoor hammock, indoor swing, and a theater for fashion shows, singing and stage productions.

She could stock the playroom with art supplies and she could bring some American Girl dolls for the little girls to play with. Maybe she could go to American Girl and ask them if they would donate the dolls.

As Ellie painted the picture of the dream playrooms for the orphanage, her mother’s first instinct was to rein her daughter back to reality.

“As adults we lean toward saying why things ‘can’t’ be done, we try to protect our kids a little too much, we try to talk them off the ledge,” Nate Schaub said. “We just started seeing in Ellie that the imagination she had to solve problems and met people’s needs was pure and unfiltered. That really led to the inspiration for us to get out of their way and empower them to go after whatever is in their hearts to do.”

The family’s first lemonade stand was in 2011 in their Meadows neighborhood. By March 2012, Ellie had enlisted the participation of the Castle Rock American Girl store to donate two dolls for a silent auction – plus two more to take to the orphanage, raised about 25 percent toward a $40,000 fundraising goal and inspired a group of about 18, including students from Clear Sky and Academy Charter elementary schools as well as local high schools, to join her for a two-week working trip to build the playrooms.

The biggest bonus? The effort inspired the startup of the website www.alittlimagination.org, which Nate Schaub envisions as a resource for kids who want to make a difference.

“We want this to be the kickoff project for alittleimagination to grow into a platform for kids with any idea to come gather support, whether it’s to raise awareness, volunteers or financial support,” Nate Schaub said. “Sort of like a kickstarter.com model as a funding platform for creative projects – the kickstarter of kids’ philanthropic projects.”

The website provides a way to donate to Ellie Schaub’s Thailand trip, which embarks June 27 for a two-week trip to Thailand. The family also has the support of their church, The Rock in Castle Rock, which provides a nonprofit option for donors who wish to make a tax deductible donation.

Now 8, Ellie is looking forward to meeting Dow and to seeing what the final product looks like. She will be joined by her little sister, Abby, 4, and she hopes to see one other thing while she’s visiting the foreign country.

“I want to see an elephant,” Ellie said. “They’re my favorite animal.”

To donate to the effort to build a playroom for the Kids Life Children’s Home, visit www.alittleimagination.orgor mail donations to The Rock, c/o 2420 Trailblazer Way, Castle Rock, 80109. Donors should write “Thailand” or “a little imagination” in the memo line of the check.

A family tradition of reaching out took on new meaning for a Castle Rock family when the oldest daughter came of age. The only surprise was mom and dad didn’t expect it to happen when she was just 7 years old. 

Ellie Schaub grew up joining her parents reach out to a Thai orphanage as part of the family’s longtime ministry. Nate and Shanea Schaub began their outreach to Thailand in 2001, traveling there four times since the early days of their marriage.

The couple hosted teams of high school and college students on mission trips to Thailand and has long sponsored Dow, a Thai orphan who, through letters and Skype visits, has become an extended member of their family.

Ellie Schaub was 7 years old when she told her parents she wanted to do more than write letters to Dow, and asked how else the family could help the orphanage. Those kitchen table conversations spawned the idea for a lemonade stand, where Ellie’s first effort raised about $32 to send to the Kids Life Children’s Home in Fang, Thailand.

Working off of a wish list sent by the kids at the orphanage, Ellie eventually decided she wanted to build the girls at the home an indoor/outdoor playroom. In Ellie’s design, the playroom would have a kitchen area, art station, outdoor hammock, indoor swing, and a theater for fashion shows, singing and stage productions.

She could stock the playroom with art supplies and she could bring some American Girl dolls for the little girls to play with. Maybe she could go to American Girl and ask them if they would donate the dolls.

As Ellie painted the picture of the dream playrooms for the orphanage, her mother’s first instinct was to rein her daughter back to reality.

“As adults we lean toward saying why things ‘can’t’ be done, we try to protect our kids a little too much, we try to talk them off the ledge,” Nate Schaub said. “We just started seeing in Ellie that the imagination she had to solve problems and met people’s needs was pure and unfiltered. That really led to the inspiration for us to get out of their way and empower them to go after whatever is in their hearts to do.”

The family’s first lemonade stand was in 2011 in their Meadows neighborhood. By March 2012, Ellie had enlisted the participation of the Castle Rock American Girl store to donate two dolls for a silent auction – plus two more to take to the orphanage, raised about 25 percent toward a $40,000 fundraising goal and inspired a group of about 18, including students from Clear Sky and Academy Charter elementary schools as well as local high schools, to join her for a two-week working trip to build the playrooms.

The biggest bonus? The effort inspired the startup of the website www.alittlimagination.org, which Nate Schaub envisions as a resource for kids who want to make a difference.

“We want this to be the kickoff project for alittleimagination to grow into a platform for kids with any idea to come gather support, whether it’s to raise awareness, volunteers or financial support,” Nate Schaub said. “Sort of like a kickstarter.com model as a funding platform for creative projects – the kickstarter of kids’ philanthropic projects.”

The website provides a way to donate to Ellie Schaub’s Thailand trip, which embarks June 27 for a two-week trip to Thailand. The family also has the support of their church, The Rock in Castle Rock, which provides a nonprofit option for donors who wish to make a tax deductible donation.

Now 8, Ellie is looking forward to meeting Dow and to seeing what the final product looks like. She will be joined by her little sister, Abby, 4, and she hopes to see one other thing while she’s visiting the foreign country.

“I want to see an elephant,” Ellie said. “They’re my favorite animal.”

To donate to the effort to build a playroom for the Kids Life Children’s Home, visit www.alittleimagination.org or mail donations to The Rock, c/o 2420 Trailblazer Way, Castle Rock, 80109. Donors should write “Thailand” or “a little imagination” in the memo line of the check.

No comments on this story | Add your comment
Please log in or register to add your comment