ORLAND PARK, IL – A 13-year-old Orland Park teenager has donated $1,000 from the proceeds of a self-published poetry book to Ukrainian humanitarian efforts and said she hopes her trip can also inspire others. other children.
Isabelle Thomas, a student at St. Michael’s Catholic School, has always loved reading, but wanted to take her passion for books to the next level by trying to write her own.
While she was excited by the idea, getting past the first few pages was difficult for Isabelle, who was in fourth grade at the time. It was then that her mother suggested that Isabelle try her hand at poetry.
“My first poem was called Chérie”, recalls Isabelle. The first poem later made an appearance in her book, Petals in the Sky.
After Honey, the young author said she continued to write until she collected nearly 20 poems in notebooks, draft pages and on the computer. Wanting to find a place to put them all, the Thomas family came up with the idea for Isabelle to compile her own collection of poetry.
A few months later, Petals in the Sky was available for sale on Amazon and through a few copies the Thomas family had purchased. And the money was flowing.
“Oh yeah, the first sale was really exciting,” Isabelle said. “It was my sister’s dance teacher who asked for one and we gave it to her and she gave me $10 cash. I remember turning to my mom and saying, ‘Hey , can I keep this?
Meanwhile, Isabelle, then 12, said she had been affected by COVID-19 as were many middle school students. Feeling helpless and frustrated, Isabelle finally found inspiration.
“I was reading this magazine for school in my main class about a group of people who volunteered to work for COVID-19 and I thought about it and thought, ‘Why not just give the money I get to COVID?”, Isabelle said.
By the end of 2020, the self-published, illustrated book had sold nearly 70 copies and had been shipped to six different countries. Copies were ordered from family members, Isabelle’s teachers, and even the director of St. Michael’s.
After the initial fanfare, Isabelle said she plans to donate the money once she reaches a goal of $500. But as COVID-19 restrictions eased and Isabelle returned to school, a new cause caught her attention.
“We were talking about the horrible things that are happening in Ukraine with Isabelle,” Isabelle’s father, Johnson Thomas, said. “She’s emotional and doesn’t talk a lot, but we know she takes things very seriously. It gave her a platform and motivated her to contribute in some way. other to humanity.”
Isabelle said she made the difficult choice to redirect money from her book to Ukrainian efforts after watching children her age struggle in the aftermath of Russian attacks. The Johnsons discovered that the Ukrainian Humanitarian Aid Fund would match 100% of a donation and soon after they sent Isabelle’s $500, ending with $1,000 for aid.
“I felt really good and I want to do it again,” said Isabelle, who is already working on her next book; this time, a climate change novel with proceeds going to environmental charities.
Although Isabelle said she was lucky to have such supportive parents in Johnson and Rupa Thomas, she hopes other children will feel inspired to give back, no matter the challenges.
“I want to ask other kids if they can be inspired by this,” she said. “I was just because what I read in school about these kids who volunteered and I felt motivated by that and I hope that’s the thing that other people read that make them also inspires.”
Find Isabelle’s book, Petals in the Sky, on Amazon.