Gabriella Cooperman

Gabriella CoopermanCommunity Contributor

Gabriella Cooperman created an annual lemonade and cookie stand, Cookies for Charity, that raises funds to provide therapeutic horseback riding to children with special needs.

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The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

Cookies for Charity

At five years old, I watched my sister Danielle, who has special needs, ride a horse for therapy. From the first time Danielle rode the horse, her body and mind were positively impacted. My mother explained to me that insurance didn’t cover this necessary therapy which many children need, but couldn’t afford. I knew I had to help, so I started Cookies for Charity. I wanted to do a lemonade stand with a twist and sell my mom’s famous heath bar crunch chocolate chip cookies. I was determined to raise enough money to make a difference.

When I started in 2005, I raised $500 and knew I was onto something, but wanted to make an even greater difference. I have always believed age is not a determining factor when it comes to making a difference in the world. I reached out to corporate sponsors a few years later and now in its twelfth year, Cookies for Charity has 21 corporate partners and raised over $130,000 for sponsoring children at the Equestrian Connection in Lake Forest, Illinois.

As Jews, at a very early age, we are taught about the value of tikkun olam, which means to repair the world. It is taught in our religious school education, our youth groups and at home. There is a reason why it is so important because we all have a responsibility to make this world a better place. If we can make a difference, we must.

People innately want to help others but just don’t know how to get started. Cookies for Charity provides a pathway to accomplish this, as 100 percent of all proceeds go toward enabling children who otherwise couldn’t afford therapeutic horseback riding.

It is a tremendous honor to be selected as a 2017 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award recipient and I’m so grateful to the Helen Diller Family Foundation for giving me the opportunity to further my vision in helping others. Receiving this award validates the importance of the work I do and enables me to carry on the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam, along with continuing to inspire others to make a difference. I’m also honored to join a community of like-minded teens who share a passion for giving back. Although it only takes one to make a difference, being part of a growing network of Jewish teens tackling global issues to create a lasting change through tikkun olam is powerful.

With this award, I’m able to further my education at a university where I plan to pursue theatre and business, as well as to continue to educate others about the value and necessity of horseback riding therapy. To learn more and support my project, please check out my website.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forward.

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