PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Ten-year-old Arinze McGee believes anyone can give back to their community.
“You just have to have a heart,” he said.
Arinze’s community reach, however, isn’t locally confined. His reach stretches all the way to Liberia, the country where his mother was born and the place where he had an experience that would shape his vision for giving back.
When Arinze was six he spent a summer with his mother in Liberia. She went to sign him up for a summer camp, but there was a problem. The friends he made during his time there couldn’t afford to go.
“I felt like it wasn’t fair for me to go, and not the rest of my friends,” Arinze said.
The next day, Arinze began putting an idea in motion.
“He’s like ‘Mommy we’re going to start a soccer team,'” Charlene McGee Kollie recalled her 6-year-old son saying, “and he had already mobilized and identified a coach.”
When Arinze got back to the United States, he took his team-building efforts to the next level. Instead of asking for birthday presents, he asked for sports equipment that he would send back to his friends in Liberia.
And this year, once again, Arinze went to the next level. He’s hoping to raise $10,000 to ship equipment to Liberia so he can launch the Arinze Dream Academy and sports camps. He also wants to sponsor 10 kids to go to school, something he’s already been doing with a friend named “Eddie Boy” for the past four years.
“I’ll never forget the first time Arinze saw a picture of Eddie Boy the first time he went to school,” Charlene recalled. “He’s like ‘Mommy, look at this: I’m making a difference in one person’s life.'”
Most of Arinze’s friends back in Liberia have to start work early. He knows his efforts can make a big difference in their lives.
“Every little thing you do that you think is little is big,” Arinze said.
If you’d like to help out Arinze’s Dream Academy you can donate online or you can donate to his collection drive on Saturday.
- Saturday, Aug. 25
- 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
- Grace Memorial Church, 1535 NE 17th Ave., Portland, Oregon