Harris' Heroes: Kids on a Mission

From left: Ava, Ruth-McCoy and Brooke. (WJLA photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. (WJLA) – What started out as an alternative to birthday presents for a Fairfax teenager has evolved into a nonprofit that is helping youngsters in the D.C. area turn their compassion into action. The organization is called Touching Heart, and that is exactly what it is doing with its Kids on a Mission program.

Seven-year-old Ava Turicchi is on a mission. She, along with 9-year-old Brooke Hadle and 12-year-old Ruth-McCoy Miles, organized a fashion show to bring attention to their cause—to raise money for Fairfax County foster children.

Through bake sales and a silent auction, they raised $3,500, much more than they ever imagined, and enough to give away 70 gift cards worth $50 each.

“So then they could pretty much go out and get whatever they wanted to get,” Brooke said.

These young volunteers wouldn’t have been able to accomplish this without the help of Touching Heart and its Kids on a Mission program. Seventeen-year-old Taylor Yi and her mother, Helen, started the nonprofit four years ago. Taylor was turning 13 and instead of asking for birthday gifts, she asked her friends to donate to a charity of their choice. That led to the creation of Kids on a Mission, a program to not only give youth of all ages the tools to make an impact on the world, but also experience the joy of helping others.

“I want other people to feel how great it feels to give to other people,” Taylor said.

The response from young volunteers has been overwhelming.

“Everything that I see and their passion for helping other children just inspires me every single day,” Taylor added.

For Ava, Brooke and Ruth-McCoy, this is also an important life lesson.

“Like any age you can do it,” Ruth-McCoy said. “If you just commit to it, you can really make a difference.”

More than 40 area youngsters have organized fundraising projects through the Kids on a Mission program, which has helped some 350 children, both locally and as far away as Zambia and Mozambique.

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