This girl gave up her 13th birthday to donate shoes to orphans in the Dominican Republic

Cindy Arboleda
Photo: Ninodehristo Orphanage
Photo: Niños de Cristo orphanage

Most 12-year-old girls who are about to become teenagers would want a big birthday party celebration with all their friends. But what one North Carolina girl desired for her 13th birthday left her parents and community inspired, Wilmington’s WECT reports.

Emma Stewart and her family traveled to the Dominican Republic for vacation last year. Her parents, Chris and Kimberly Stewart, wanted the soon-to-be teen to experience the country’s true culture, more than just what a couple of days of sun and sand at a nice hotel resort could provide.

The Stewarts visited the Niños de Cristo orphanage, where 160 boys and girls live. Emily was struck by the lack of basic supplies for the children.

“When I went there, none of them had shoes or anything,” Emma said. “There were cuts and bruises on their feet, a lot of glass on the floor, and they had no protection from bugs or animals.”

So when her parents asked what she’d like for her upcoming birthday, Emma just wanted to help the Niños de Cristo children.

Emma decided to assist them by collecting as many pairs of flip-flops and supplies as she could to take to the children. And, with the help of her grandmother, who reportedly created a Facebook post asking their community for donations, she gathered hundreds of toiletries, books, supplies, and flip-flops.

“I don’t understand what they have gone through their whole lives, but now I have an idea,” Emma said. “I am privileged enough to live here, and they aren’t, but they still deserve nice things.”

The Stewart family is heading to the island on Tuesday to deliver the supplies.

“It makes me feel really good that I am not just looking out for myself but the less fortunate too,” Emma said.

This is not the first time the Niños de Cristo orphanage has been on the receiving end of generous donations (and hopefully not the last). In 2015, Texas native Judy Pogue donated 152 pairs of shoes.


Orfanato Niños de Cristo‘s mission is to “provide orphaned children with a home, health, and education through college to help them become independent and productive members of their communities.”

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