Neighbors Who Care 13

Chandler Youth Give Back to the Community in Big Ways

Charlotte Gould

Fourth Grader Sews Dolls and Donates Profits

By Mindy Haskins

Charlotte Gould has a message that she wants to share with the world: Little people can do great things.

The fourth grader at Jacobson Elementary School is a living example of her own words. Charlotte was born with a cleft lip and palate and has undergone two surgeries and numerous procedures.

Two years ago she received a sewing machine. With the help of her grandmothers, the aspiring fashion designer jumped right into making rag dolls called Sweeties. She sells her dolls online, with half of the sales going directly to the Barrow Cleft & Craniofacial Center at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

“Charlotte also gives presentations to families, other children and hospital donors as well as hosts an annual picnic for cleft-affected families to connect,” Nicole Gould says of her daughter.

All of the Sweetie designs are created by Gould, who also handpicks all of the fabrics and pays for all of the supplies herself. She also makes special dolls for worthy causes, like a child battling cancer and a Harvey relief doll that raised $100 to send to Texas.

“The dolls are so fun to make,” Charlotte says, “I hope whoever buys a doll falls in love with it and they become best friends.”

To learn more and purchase a Sweetie, go to

James Martell

Basha Baseball Player Creates 
Sports Donation Drive

By Georgann Yara

Basha High School baseball standout James Martell saw it as a well-used glove. But when he gave it to someone else, Martell realized it meant more.

While playing club ball, Martell connected with a younger player. He realized the youth might never have a glove of this quality to call his own. So, Martell gave it to him.

“He had this big smile on his face,” says Martell, 17. “I didn’t think it would be that big of a deal, but I was taken aback about how something I take for granted could mean so much to someone else.”

This was the catalyst for Martell’s sports equipment and apparel donation drive to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley’s Compadre Branch–Chandler. The drive is Martell’s Basha Gives Back senior year project and he anticipates delivering two truckloads worth of donations to the club this fall.

The project has been unofficially endorsed by the Arizona Cardinals, which donated items for the cause, Martell says. Among them: a showcase NFL football signed by wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald that will go to the person giving the most donations.

The centerfielder has verbally committed to play for Central College in Pella, Iowa, next year. But this drive indicates the future of others is on his mind.

“I was blessed to have all the equipment I needed to play,” says Martell, a ballplayer since age 3. “I wanted to give the younger generation of athletes the chance to compete like I did, and maybe develop a love for the game.”

Perry High Stugo

Students Send Care Packages to Soliders in Iraq

By Georgann Yara

Thanks to the Perry High School Student Government, a U.S. Marines platoon stationed in Iraq will be on the receiving end of 175 large shipping boxes stuffed with sunflower seeds, countless flavors of gum, toothbrushes, new shaving razors, lemonade mix and a cornucopia of other daily necessities and goodies.

Students fueled the school-wide drive by filling the boxes with various items that many take for granted, but those serving abroad in battlegrounds find luxurious. Each box also contains a thank you note.

The student government class had been sending care packages to Perry graduates who are in the military. But last year, upon discovering that attendance secretary Margaret Harper’s son was serving in Iraq, they decided to adopt his company.

“Our student government can get caught up in what’s happening at Perry, but this is an opportunity for us to use our leadership in a way that we otherwise wouldn’t,” says Rylee Hanson, 16, junior class president and fundraising committee chair.

Senior and student body president Hannah Bashford, 17, adds, “I feel like it gives us a greater perspective of what’s happening in the world. It helps unify the student body as well.”

Harper’s son returned to personally thank the students and tell them how much the gesture means to him and his fellow soldiers.

“He let us know first-hand the impact they made,” says Lerina Johnson, student government advisor. “They have truly big hearts and it’s a contagious thing.”

Johnson recalls when Harper was first told about the drive last year and shown the several dozen boxes destined for her son.

“There were tears, instantly,” Johnson says of Harper’s emotional reaction. “That’s when you know you’re doing good.”

Riley Bublitz

Third Grader Raised $1,200 to 
Help the Homeless

By Georgann Yara

From the comfort of her mother’s air-conditioned vehicle, Riley Bublitz was overcome with sympathy for the homeless man—and others like him—on the corner, forced to endure the heat, unsheltered from the elements.

“I felt kind of sad. I asked my mom, ‘Can I help?’” Riley recalls.

In response, Riley, 8, designed and sold more than 100 handmade bracelets made with leather donated by her father, David Bublitz. In two weeks, she raised $1,200 and used it to purchase hundreds of pairs of men’s and women’s underwear and socks.

With her parents, Riley personally delivered these essentials to homeless at the Phoenix Rescue Mission, along with 175 popsicles this past summer.

“They said, ‘Thank you,’ and, ‘God bless you,’” Riley says. “It made me feel really happy and excited that I did that.”

The Hull Elementary School third grader has since become an enthusiastic ambassador, touting the mission’s services to those in need she sees on the street.

“She’s pretty amazing,” Sheri Bublitz says of her daughter. “She pushed both my husband and me out of our comfort zones. We’re humbly proud of her that she has that big of a heart.”

Mrs. Estevez’s Third Grade Class

Students Visit With Senior 
Center Residents

By Mindy Haskins

It all starts with kindness. That’s what Nicole Estevez wants to teach her students.

When she saw a Facebook post of preschoolers visiting a senior center last year, an idea sparked. With the help of a parent, they worked with a nearby senior center to create a similar experience for her third graders at Jacobson Elementary School.

Now, in lieu of classroom parties, the students (along with Estevez and classroom parent volunteers) walk across the street to The Gardens at Ocotillo and visit with its residents.

“We go over for special holidays and do a craft, have a snack, play games or put on a play for them,” Estevez says. “The residents seem to enjoy the visits and like having some youngsters to tell their stories to.”

As enjoyable as it is for the residents, it’s also a great learning experience for the kids.

“This is a way for us to learn about compassion and giving back,” Estevez says. “The kids feel like they are doing something good and making a difference in someone’s day.”