After three years of raising funds for the nonprofit medical and nutritional program Miriam's Table, a Sussex Academy High School teen completed his most successful fundraiser yet.
At age 11, Wade Stout of Millsboro began selling cupcakes in 2015 to fulfill his sixth-grade community service hours and raise funds for the nonprofit Miriam's Table. The organization was started a year earlier by Susie and Ed Keefer of Lewes, following the adoption of their daughter Miriam from the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. Miriam's Table currently serves more than 350 children in the DRC, providing nutritious meals and much-needed medical care. Stout continued his cupcake service projects throughout middle school, raising approximately $2,600 over three years.
Now a ninth-grader at Sussex Academy High School, Stout was ready for a greater challenge. "The cupcakes were really successful, but I decided to shift gears this year and try to raise even more money for the children in the DRC," he said. With a goal of $1,200 in mind, Stout researched, designed, produced, packaged and sold 120 10-ounce soy candles in 14 different colors and scents. "My mom has always told me to help others when I can, and to 'be a light,' so making candles seemed like the perfect fundraiser idea," he said. As a nod to his mother, he named one of the candles in his line, "Be the Light."
"This young man never ceases to amaze us. Each year ... he has continued his school projects, raising both awareness and funds for Miriam's Table. This year he really surprised us with a candle-making business," said Susie Keefer.
According to Stout, shifting away from cupcake sales felt risky, as the materials’ costs for candles were higher, and he wasn't sure if people would actually want to buy them. "For a while I thought we might have a lifetime supply of candles to burn if they didn't sell," he said, laughing. However, once Stout announced the candle project on Facebook, he sold out in just three days, with proceeds totaling $1,600. "Learning to make and sell a whole new product was fun, but the best part will be presenting the money for Miriam's Table to Mrs. Keefer and Miriam at Epworth United Methodist Church next month," he said.
Stout, who hopes his younger brothers Whit and Wyatt will help with future projects, named the fundraising business "w³ candle co." "Whit will be a sixth-grader at SA this fall, and we're already planning to make 250 candles with all new names and scents to sell during the 2018 holiday season," said Stout.
For more information about Miriam's Table, go to www.miriamstable.org.