AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

December 8, 2012

Girl, 10, has the Christmas spirit

MERCER COUNTY AREA — Santa Claus came to Little Disciples Preschool in Pine Township Friday night in the form of a 10-year-old girl bearing gifts of books, toys and games.

"It's Christmas early," exclaimed Lorie Wizorek, the preschool's director and teacher, as Arielle Reiser helped her sort through the items at one of the kid-sized tables.

The Mercer girl shared her story of how she came up with the idea to create Chip-In, which stands for Contribute Household Items for People In Need, a growing project that has already helped a handful of nonprofits.

"It's better to give than receive, and a lot of people need it more than we do," she said, her mother Andrea standing by and smiling proudly.

Arielle, an active girl who loves soccer, running 5K races and reading, was looking for something to do this summer to keep busy.

Her mother suggested cleaning out some drawers and cupboards and coming up with an idea for the items they didn't use.

As Arielle discovered toys, coloring books and school supplies, she realized there might be other kids who would enjoy things she no longer needed.

"It's actually pretty fun," Arielle said of sorting through the items, especially with the help of her friend Rachel Snow.

It wasn't long before Chip-In was born and she took the idea to her family's church, the Church of the Beloved Disciple - the preschool is a ministry of the parish - and spoke in front of the large congregation, telling him how they could help by filling a 1-gallon plastic bag with any number of items.

"They thought it was a good idea," said Arielle, a fifth-grader at Mercer Elementary School whose family includes her father Tod, and brother Kedric, 18.

People can donate more than what fills a 1-gallon bag, but Arielle uses it as a guideline because it's an easy project for families, high school seniors looking for a community service project or local organizations.

"It doesn't matter how old you are. Everybody has a messy drawer at home," Reiser said. "We're keeping it very simple."

Arielle gave out brochures she made and 120 of those empty bags at her church in September and the result was two shopping carts full of toiletries, games, puzzles, pencils, books and more.

"I feel like I did a good thing," Arielle said, adding she's hoping to spread the word beyond her church to collect more items to give to more organizations.

She's shipped care packages overseas to men and women in the military and delivered donations to Grove Manor nursing home in Grove City, the Grove City Community Food Pantry and the City Rescue Mission in New Castle; Reiser used to be a social worker in New Castle.

Arielle has also delivered her speech to the Grove City Rotary Club, which is collecting donations for Chip-In, and she said she'd be happy to speak to other service groups and churches and help them get started on adding to her project.

"What we're amazed at is how thrilled people are to help," Reiser said.

After 10 minutes of pulling things from seemingly bottomless bags, the pile in front of Arielle and Wizorek nearly toppled over from the weight of construction paper, stickers, glue, felt, books and toys, the teacher's eyes widening as she realized just how many donations the preschool received.

"It's just fantastic," Wizorek said, adding other things in the room were either donated or bought at yard sales, meaning gifts like Arielle's are greatly appreciated.

Arielle, who said she's collected more than she expected, is planning to get her fellow students involved by holding a donation drive at school.

She's also finishing up a website for Chip-In and anyone with donations can contact her to schedule a pickup.

Reiser has told her children what matters most is the imprint they will leave on the lives of others and Arielle's project is a good example of how little things can mean a lot, and their family is learning about the needs of their community.

"Her world is expanding and she doesn't even know it," Reiser said.

For more information, call Arielle at 724-967-2715, email her at treiser@zoominternet.net or visit www.chipinproject.com, which is expected to be up and running soon.

Published Dec. 5, 2012, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201A Erie St., Grove City.

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