iblings John, Francesca, Daniella and Carina Kehoe appreciate the value of Catholic education. In fact, they started their own nonprofit business to raise funds to pay for tuition, room and board and books and supplies—but not for themselves.
For the past year, the Kehoes have been raising money for high school girls in Uganda who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend Catholic school.
“We believe education is one of the most important things you can receive in life,” said 16-year-old John, a junior at Xavier High School in Manhattan. “We wanted to create a business because we knew it was the best way to sustain a charity.”
He and his sisters purchased supplies, created, marketed, built a website and began selling “On the Go PAKs (Personal Accessory Kits)” last February, with proceeds going to their “Success Scholarship Fund.” The fund has raised enough for four girls to attend Sacred Heart Catholic High School in Uganda for a year—each scholarship is $700.
The idea for the scholarships, and the business, grew out of a family dinner discussion the siblings had with their parents, Edward and Anastasia.
Carina, 12, is a sixth-grader at Convent of the Sacred Heart in Manhattan, which her sisters also attend. Francesca, 17, is a senior, and Daniella, 14, is in eighth grade. Carina told CNY that at her school, the plight of poverty in Uganda was a familiar subject and one for which the girls had earlier raised funds.
“We were talking about how lucky we were and were trying to find a way to get money for girls for education,” she said.
Inspired by a comment from their mother, who said her purse was often too heavy, the foursome decided to create small packs filled with accessories such as gum, aspirin, tissues and Band-Aids. There are a variety of packs for people young and old, and for both men and women to enjoy. They range in price from $10 to $20.
“We have a 50 percent profit margin,” John said. “We give all the profits to charity.”
An unexpected byproduct has been the strengthening of family bonds. “I love working with my siblings,” Carina said. “My sisters and I, we fight a lot, but since we have a common goal, it brings us together as we work on this.”
The PAKs are sold online at www.ONTHEGOPAK.com; at street fairs, flea markets and farmers’ markets, and have been sold after Mass at the family’s parish church—St. Thomas More. The amount of time devoted to the business varies each week. If one sibling has a lot of homework, another will step in. If inventory is needed, all four may sit together at the table or in front of the television to pack the accessories.
The Kehoes agreed that the effort is worth it.
“Many girls around the world don’t get the chance to go to school,” Carina said. “It changes their lives and brings the rest of the family out of poverty.” By giving them the gift of a high school education, they have the chance to then go on to universities and careers in education, health care and other fields otherwise closed to them, she said.
Mrs. Kehoe, speaking on behalf of her husband, said, “We are so proud, and maybe just a little amazed.
“When I was their age, I would never have had the confidence or drive to begin a business and create a scholarship fund. I think these kids just look at the world differently than we did when we were kids,” she said. “I love their enthusiasm and optimism. It gives me hope for the future.”
John said he and his sisters were just living out Jesus’ commandment to “Love your neighbor.”
“When it comes down to it, what we want to do is help people,” he said.