KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Two seniors at Pembroke Hill started a UNICEF initiative at their school, and they're raising thousands of dollars to help children all over the world.
"Whenever my father was a child, they didn't really have much around the house," 18-year-old Leon Lin said. "He always talks about how life was super hard and how they struggled just to have food every single day."
That was the reality for Lin's father who was born in China.
Struggling to get by was the norm, and that's why Lin today finds himself so passionate about helping those in need.
"They were born into those situations," he said. "They had no control over what type of family they would be born into or anything."
So now, Lin and fellow Pembroke Hill senior Greta Chase are helping children around the world. They, and a team of other students, are going around their neighborhoods, collecting money that will be sent to UNICEF.
The nonprofit provides immunizations, health care, food, water and emergency crisis resources, among other things, to children.
"Every long journey begins with a single step," Chase said.
Chase is responsible for creating the UNICEF initiative at Pembroke Hill. Recently, while attending a UNICEF camp, she heard a story from a teen from Rwanda that changed her life forever.
"One of the girls said she saw her parents get killed, her sister was taken away, she was raped and she just had her child -- but she was happy," Chase said. "Just to see their positivity throughout all the trauma that has gone on in her life really inspired me."
She learned quickly how just a little can help a lot.
"Fifty cents can provide one meal to a malnourished child," Chase said.
"If you can do something to help, then why not do something," Lin said.
The teens' work has put their daily lives in perspective.
"We may have some day-to-day struggles, but it's nothing compared to what someone else may have," Chase said.
"I'm lucky enough that I get to grow up not having to worry about meals or education," Lin said.
Ninety percent of the money the teens are raising goes to children around the world. The other 10 percent goes toward administration expenses.
"By giving them food and providing them a chance to get an education and stuff like that, I feel like that's really important," Chase said.
After graduation, Lin wants to go on to be a pediatrician, and Chase wants to pursue a career in international relations or linguistics.
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