Prior Lake, Minn. ,
08:00 AM

A Little Girl With A Big Heart

Young Minnesotan and her State Farm agent team up for charity

You don’t need a big pocketbook to give. You don’t need a ton of free time to volunteer. You just need a big heart and a willingness to help. And 10 year old Minnesotan Sanya Pirani has those in spades.

When Sanya was just seven years old she watched a YouTube video about the life of children after war. She saw kids her own age without clothes, shoes and other basic necessities. All things she couldn’t imagine living without; things she took for granted. From that point, she felt compelled to help others.

“Sanya wanted a popular doll for a long time, so I gave her a little more than $100 to buy one,” Dilshad, Sanya’s mother, reminisced. Sanya felt uncomfortable buying an expensive doll when millions of children didn’t have enough to eat.

Eight year-old Sanya used the doll money and bought 100 pieces of candy. She sold them for five dollars each, making $500. She donated all the money towards feeding a village of 700 people through Feed My Starving Children (FMSC). “She hoped that by the end of 2017 she could finish feeding the entire village of 700 people for one year” Dilshad continued.

Soon after, Sanya found out from the county commissioner the local Crisis Nursery (an organization that helps parents who are dealing with emergencies such as a sudden illness, housing problems, divorce or separation, or financial strains, may need time to resolve the crisis) needed help.

She channeled her artistic abilities and made bookmarks. She sold them at her mom’s work, school and soccer practice. After two months, she made $500 and donated every last penny to charity.

The young humanitarian soon realized she couldn’t save the world on her own, she needed a team. Sanya‘s teacher and principal allowed her to speak to the entire third grade class. Under Sanya’s leadership, the class ended up raising nearly $2,300 for charity. Sanya herself fundraised more than $24,000.

The following year, she partnered with her strongest supporter yet. Her mother’s State Farm insurance agent. Dilshad was meeting with Erik Westrum when he asked her, “Where do you need us?” It’s the former professional hockey player turned insurance agent’s unofficial motto.

“Erik mentioned his work to fight Parkinson’s disease and asked if I was involved in the community. It’s something he asks all of his customers because he wants to support causes we care about,” shared Dilshad.

“Many of my customers volunteer but I was touched and inspired by Sanya and her family,” Erik said with a big smile. “She is an amazing young girl and I knew I wanted to help her help others.” Erik continues to provide donations to Sanya to help her build upon her efforts.

Sanya, with help from Erik and hundreds like him, is still actively helping the local and global community. The preteen has a close relationship with the local Community Action Partnership (CAP) agency raising more than $5000 for the nonprofit. She also ran a successful food school supply drive with local libraries. Globally, she has raised nearly $27,000 for FMSC and more than $2000 for world church services and Aga Khan Foundation.

Her work has not gone unnoticed. Sanya has won awards from the local CAP, was the only child recognized on National Philanthropic Day, and received a Certificate of Recognition from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton.

Be like Sanya. Do something, anything – big or small that makes a positive difference in your community. Be grateful for what you have and help those who are less fortunate. Please feel free to visit Sanya’s social pages (see above) to support her so she can continue to help those who need it the most.

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