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Youth Get in the Game to Send Bed Nets

June 2, 2008

Spencer Gray, a 5-year-old from Ohio, is saving lives one penny at a time. Last year, Spencer started rolling up the pennies from his savings jar. In one week, he rolled $10 worth of pennies—over 1,000 coins.

Those pennies add up to what it takes—just $10—to protect a family from malaria by sending a life-saving bed net to Africa through our Nothing But Nets campaign. Malaria is the leading killer of children under 5 in Africa. Bed nets protect families by creating a protective barrier against mosquitoes at night, when the vast majority of malaria transmissions occur.

When Spencer learned how easy it was to save lives, he was inspired to raise even more money. He and his little sister Ginger set up a lemonade stand during their family’s garage sale. The two raised $70—enough money for seven more families to be covered by nets.

Katherine Commale, a 7-year-old from Pennsylvania, was also inspired by the Nothing But Nets campaign. But, Katherine’s astounding $43,000 raised is an inspiration for everyone involved in the campaign. Starting at age 5, Katherine and her mother, Lynda, went to area churches to perform skits, give demonstrations about bed nets and made handmade gift certificates to spread the word and raise awareness. Katherine has been featured in national Nothing But Nets events and even met President Bush at a World Malaria Day event.

Spencer and Katherine are great examples of how anyone—at any age—can change the world with a little passion, creativity and persistence.

New York Times writer Donald McNeil also captured the impact of the charitable efforts of young people in his front-page article, “A $10 Mosquito Net Is Making Charity Cool.” To read the article, visit