Local first-grader raises $1,000 for charity

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Dexter is proudly displaying the check he will present to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

 

Unlike a typical 7-year-old, Dexter Sewell spends his free time raising money to save sea turtles instead of sitting in front of a video game or the television. His mom, Samantha, said Dexter has always liked turtles, but his passion to save them began after he saw a YouTube video of a sea turtle with a straw stuck in its nose. Horrified, Dexter ran to his parents to tell them about it. “How can we help them?” he asked with determination in his young voice.

Dexter’s parents set to work helping him investigate. They found out about the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Jupiter where they focus on ocean and sea turtle conservation. Next, they began brainstorming ideas on ways to raise funds, and they decided Dexter would design some shirts and Mrs. Sewell would make them. They also made stickers for cars, and Dexter designed those, too.

Finally, they set up a Facebook page called Dexter’s Mission and began asking people to make donations. For a $25 donation, people received a T-shirt and a sticker, or they could order a sticker by itself for $10. They periodically held drawings on the page and did giveaways to keep up the interest, said Mrs. Sewell. Within two weeks, they had raised $1,000.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Seven-year-old Dexter watches carefully as a sea turtle is examined at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center.

Every penny went to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. The Sewell family donated the supplies to make the shirts, including the shirts themselves, and were not reimbursed. “That was our donation to the cause,” said Mrs. Sewell. They plan to start again with a new goal probably around the end of April. Dexter says his new goal is $2,000, and he believes they can do it!

Dexter is in first grade but doing third- and fourth-grade math. He is home-schooled by his mom, and loves the fact that he can follow his interests and go on field trips to places like the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Right now, he is very excited about redecorating his bedroom with a turtle theme. He says he has turtles on the wall, turtle sheets, comforter and pillows. He has tons of stuffed turtles and turtle toys. Turtles are constantly on his mind right now. While visiting the Loggerhead Center to make his donation, he was able to “adopt” a sea turtle named Corwin.

Dexter’s dad, Kevin Sewell, said, “I am in awe with the child Samantha Sewell and I were blessed with. He amazes me every day and makes me question every decision I make in hopes of being more selfless like him. If you made $1,000, what would you spend it on? Would you buy something you want or donate it to make a microscopic difference in our world?

“‘Proud’ does not even describe how I feel about his selflessness,” his dad said.

Cathy Womble is a staff writer for the Lake Okeechobee News.

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