Eleven-year-old Larissa Manrique of Mt. Airy, Maryland is making her mark in the philanthropy world, and inspiring others to do the same, by playing her violin around her community to raise money for Project HOPE’s disaster relief efforts in the Philippines. She has already raised more than $700.
“I heard about the typhoon on the news, and I know some friends who have family there. I felt really sad for the people there and I wanted to help out, said Manrique. “I hope the donations are used so they can have medicine, food, and shelter to help people in the Philippines get better.”
Manrique’s mom, Michelle Davila, suggested she play her violin in town and donate her earnings to a non-profit organization. They learned about Project HOPE on local DC radio station WTOP, and after researching the organization, decided it was the right choice. “We wanted to make sure a majority of the proceeds went to the cause,” said Davila.
The weekend before Thanksgiving Manrique braved the cold and dedicated 15-and a-half-hours of her time to making music for Project HOPE. “It’s hard playing in the cold and the violin gets out of tune in the cold. If the wind blows hard enough, the music sheets fly away, or the peg flips,” explained Manrique.
Two friends from Manrique’s 6th grade orchestra, Khyla Aquirre (11) and Allison Baldwin (11), joined her for part of the weekend, and together the three brought holiday cheer to Mt. Airy, playing Christmas songs such as “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” in front of shops and restaurants. Manrique enjoys all types of music, and along with Christmas songs she incorporates classical and hip-hop music into her routine. One of her favorite songs to play is “Gauntlet” by Doug Spata.
Although Manrique wasn't expecting it, the community is giving back to her for playing in many ways. One group of teenagers who watched her play returned later with $20 and a note saying, “Thanks for being such an inspiration. You have encouraged us to be more courageous… you are world-changers keep rocking.” Strangers hugged her and told her how proud of her they were and the Mt. Airy Tavern owner insisted that they come inside for dinner on the house when they were done playing. “It makes me want to go into music in the future,” said Manrique.
Teachers from Mt. Airy Middle School also noticed Manrique playing, and she is now earning extra credit and service hours for her commitment to playing for a great cause. “I am just so proud of her that she wanted to go out and do this,” said Davila. “We always talk about the importance of giving and how rewarding it is over receiving.”
Manrique created a fundraiser page on projecthope.org that keeps track of her earnings and allows others to donate online. She hopes to raise $2000. Click here if you want to help Manrique reach her goal or to follow her journey. Manrique will be heading out again, so keep an eye out for the girl spreading holiday cheer!
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