By B.C. Manion
Emma Skantze is not your typical philanthropist.
For one thing, she’s just 11 years old.
The New Tampa girl began raising money for Metropolitan Ministries three years ago by organizing an annual benefit concert at Family of Christ Church at 16190 Bruce B. Downs Blvd.
She recalls how it all began.
“One day, I remember watching a TV show and there was this natural disaster and there were these people, I think it was professional singers and performers, and they were raising money for the people who had been damaged and needed new housing and stuff,” she said.
“We started talking about how everybody could do small things to make a difference,” recalled Stephanie Skantze, Emma’s mother.
“First, I figured we could do a bake sale.” Emma recalled. “My mom said, ‘Think of something that you’re really good at.’
“At that point, I was really good at piano. I decided to do a benefit concert. I named it ‘The Helping Hands,’ ” Emma said.
The event is a grassroots effort, Stephanie Skantze said, involving the help of young musicians, two piano teachers and Family of Christ Church.
The first year, Emma and other piano students of Paula Konicek performed and some of Emma’s friends sang, too.
The concert raised $350, which was matched by Emma’s family.
The second year, the concert included Konicek’s piano students, as well as piano students under the tutelage of teacher Mary Wendelken. Some of Emma’s friends sang at that concert, too.
That second concert took in $500 at the door, which Emma’s family matched. Verizon – where Emma’s dad, Johan works – matched their $500 contribution, bringing the grand total to $1,500.
This past year, a total of 21 performers, ranging from second-grade to college, were on the concert’s program.
“I had also been practicing violin, so I also did that,” the 11-year-old said.
Heather Tomasello’s daughter, Catie, was one of the performers. The 8-year-old performed two songs, including one she composed.
Tomasello said the concert gives performers a chance to exhibit their creative talents, while at the same time doing good for the greater community.
The third concert took in $750, matched by Emma’s family and by Verizon – adding up to a total of $2,250.
“People who come are usually interested in seeing a specific performer,” Stephanie Skantze said.
Organizing the concert requires a lot of work, Emma’s mom said, her eyes brimming with tears as she talked about her daughter’s commitment.
A concert date must be determined, a venue secured and performers lined up. Other details include making and distributing fliers and invitations, sending out emails, making telephone calls and so on.
“You’ve got a really long to-do list that you rework every year,” Stephanie Skantze said. “You learn a little bit every year. Emma has already started her planning for next year.” her mom said.
Emma said she wanted to help Metropolitan Ministries because it is an organization that helps people with true needs. It provides presents for poor families and offers temporary shelter for the homeless, she said.
The Terrace Community Middle School sixth-grader said she enjoys helping others. She thinks others involved with the concert enjoy helping, too.
Metropolitan Ministries is grateful for her efforts, said Angie Pattison, manager of community donations for the charitable organization.
“We are inspired by her. Her generosity and initiative is just incredible, especially in someone her age.
“This past holiday, we served over 25,000 families. Her gifts were part of that and made that possible.
“We’re just so honored that she chose to benefit our families,” Pattison said.