Child's artwork turns into charity for Arlington non-profits, hurricane victims

A 5-year-old's drawings are bringing in real donations for Arlington charities

  • Caragh, 5, is using her artwork to raise money for local non-profits
    5-year-old Caragh uses her artwork to raise money for local non-profits (Photo by Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
  • Caragh and Mission Arlington's Tillie Burgin (Photo courtesy Michael Magnus)
    Caragh meets Tillie Burgin, executive director for Mission Arlington, before donating $300 worth of mashed potatoes (Photo courtesy Michael Magnus)
  • Caragh donated more than $300 in mashed potatoes to Mission Arlington before Thanksgiving (Photo courtesy Michael Magnus)
    Caragh donated more than $300 in mashed potatoes to Mission Arlington before Thanksgiving (Photo courtesy Michael Magnus)
  • 5-year-old Caragh uses her artwork to raise money for local non-profits (Photo by Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
    5-year-old Caragh uses her artwork to raise money for local non-profits (Photo by Zack Maxwell / Arlington Voice)
David Dunn

If you hand a five-year-old a crayon and a piece of paper, most of them might use it to write out their Christmas list to Santa Claus. Instead, Caragh is using hers to bring happiness to children less fortunate than her this Holiday season, and she giggles and smiles through it all.

“I draw pictures every morning!” she exclaimed.

Before going to pre-kindergarden, Caragh has a morning routine that includes getting dressed, eating breakfast and drawing pictures at her desk, which sits comfortably next to her stepfather Michael Magnus’ desk in his work office.

Crayons are scattered all over her desk, while drawings of dinosaurs, Christmas trees and her family hang on the wall beside her. She said her favorite thing to draw is “everything” and her favorite color is pink.

“If you asked her that question maybe four months ago, it would have been pink, and yellow, and orange, and green, and purple, and turquoise,” her mother Rebecca said.

Drawing ever since she could pick up a crayon, Rebecca said art has been a big part of Caragh’s young life while growing up. She used to do it for fun, but ever since Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, TX in August, she found another purpose for it.

Caragh smiles next to $600 worth of diapers and baby formula she donated to Hurricane Harvey victims

“She said ‘I want to give my drawings to help the little babies whose houses got hurt,’” Michael said. “So we put a handful of pictures on Facebook and we’re kind of like ‘Hey, cute story, kid said this thing, here’s a handful of pictures, if anyone wants to buy them, they’re like five bucks.’ And they almost all sold, like pretty quick.”

Twenty-nine Facebook shares and 49 reactions later, Caragh raised over $600 with her drawings and went to the nearest Sam’s Club to buy a cart full of diapers and baby formula. She donated her purchases to a supply drive hosted by the Kappa Sigma fraternity at the University of Texas at Arlington, where they drove down to Houston to give it to Hurricane Harvey victims.

But Caragh didn’t want to stop there.

“She said she just wanted to keep going,” Rebecca said. “We told her that we’ll keep going as long as she still enjoys it.”

An advertising lecturer at UTA, Magnus put his expertise to good use as he set up a Facebook page - Caragh’s Pictures For Helping People - and reached out to his friends to share and promote the page’s content. He also purchased a lightbox to take better pictures of Caragh’s creations.

“We put the pictures inside, and Caragh actually gets to push the button sometimes on the camera,” Rebecca said.

Since then, Caragh has raised over $1,000 selling her drawings, donating $220 dollars to Hurricane Irma victims in Puerto Rico and $300 worth of mashed potatoes to Mission Arlington for their Thanksgiving drive. A video featuring herself and Mission Arlington executive director Tillie Burgin got over 7,000 views. At least eight people have shared it with television host Ellen Degeneres, including Rebecca, but they have yet to hear a response from her.

One of the things that impresses Magnus and Rebecca is how much Caragh inspires the people that watch her story.

“People were sharing the video and basically being like, ‘Hey guys, this five-year-old is doing this’,” Michael said. “‘We all need to step up our game.’”

Recently, Caragh has been drawing for her Christmas fundraiser, where she plans to donate to SafeHaven of Tarrant County. She was at first nervous that she would be stepping on Santa’s toes. Luckily, Santa is a personal friend of Michael’s, so he sent Caragh a text message deputizing her as one of his holiday helpers.

“She wanted to make sure Santa knew that she was just trying to help,” Rebecca said.

Michael said he plans to post the fundraiser on Facebook in mid-December, and people can purchase Caragh’s Christmas drawings then.

“Santa said she was on the ‘extra-nice’ list,” Michael said.

This story is part of the Arlington Voice's 25 Days of Good News series