Twelve-year-old Airen Tester works
tediously on a pair of earrings. The charm for the handmade jewelry
reads, "Made with love." Those three words couldn't be more
Two years ago, Airen, now a
sixth-grader at Cross Creek Christian School, wanted to help a family
friend's 11-month-old daughter who had been diagnosed with
"They were having problems going back
and forth to the hospital and Airen wanted to help," said Airen's
mother, Amy Tester.
Airen began making earrings and "selling" them, asking for a donation in exchange. Many pairs of
earrings later, Airen had raised $204 for the family.
But that wasn't enough; Airen wanted
to reach out to others in need. This past year, she continued her
efforts with a new cause--to purchase toys for children at
Knoxville's Children’s Hospital.
"She wanted to do something to help
children and she wanted to double what she raised the first year," said Amy.
And that's exactly what Airen did.
Over the last 12 months, she raised $425 and was able to hand deliver
the toys she purchased with the funds to Children's Hospital.
"That was my favorite part, taking
the toys up there," said Airen. "It was a really neat
Even though she was unable to go onto
the hospital floors because of her age, Airen was able to give toys
to children in the waiting room while visiting the hospital. She also
gave earrings to all the mothers there, explaining they were how she
had made the money to give the donations.
The response to Airen's project has
been nothing but positive, said Amy.
"We didn't even notice how much
money we were raising," she said. "We can get anywhere from $1 to $20 for a pair. Just whatever someone wants to give."
Somewhere between school and friends,
Airen finds time to make earrings daily.
"Whenever I can do it, I'm going to
do it," she said.
She also sells the earrings everywhere
"She hits up waitresses everywhere we
go," Amy said with a smile. "But they love her."
While traveling from her home in
Madisonville to visit family in Michigan, Airen was able to show off
"They were pulling out all these
millions of pairs of earrings and matching them to their outfits," said Airen.
Later on, an order came online from
someone in Michigan who had heard about Airen's project through a
All of the proceeds from the earrings
go to Airen's chosen cause.
"We don't take any of the money
that we raise to purchase the items to make the earrings," said
Amy. "She's never asked to keep any money to buy supplies."
"No," said Airen. "And, I
Airen's family has also become
involved in the project, helping out if a large order comes in.
"We get a good assembly line going," said Amy. "Mamaw does something, I do something and Airen does
Airen even has cards that she gives to
people who purchase the earrings as a gift, so the recipient knows
about the donation.
For the third year of her project,
Airen has decided to donate the money she makes from the earrings to
Shriners Hospital for Children. She has set a goal of raising $500.
This donation, in particular, is
special to Airen's family. Airen is raising money in memory of her
uncle, Ian Grant, who was burned badly from the neck down by coffee
when he was just 2 years old. He passed away the year he graduated
"When we donate to Shriners, we're
going to donate in his name," said Airen.
Airen's hope is that her project
inspires other kids her age to reach out.
"I hope it continues to expand," she said. "A lot."
Airen's project has gained enough
attention that other youth are asking how they can get involved.
"One of her friends decided she would
start a similar project and donate to her local hospital," said
Amy. "We actually bought her some tools and beads to get her
Amy and Airen said they are very
thankful for everyone who has helped, purchased earrings or given a
"So many people have helped us reach
our goals in the past and we're very thankful for them and anyone
who is willing to help with the cause in the future," said Amy. "You have no idea just how very proud I am of her."
"You have to be," laughed Airen. "I'm your daughter!"
Aside from making earrings, Airen's
hobbies include drawing, singing and playing with animals.
"She will pet a worm until it dries
out and dies, then she'll get mad about it," said Amy.
"A caterpillar bit me the other day," responded Airen, showing off her bite.
But that doesn't phase her, said Amy.
"She'll go right back to it," she
While Airen changes her mind daily,
right now she said she would like to either run an animal shelter
when she grows up or be a cook.
"I like food," she said.
For now, however, Airen is content
making earrings and using them as a venue to help others. Her advice
to someone who wants to start their own project is simple.
"Find something they like to do,
choose a charity, get your friends and family involved and just do
it," she said.
Airen's earrings can be purchased or
a donation can be given online at www.gofundme.com/3iniro.