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Photo of local girls selling toys to help the Philippines and Australia goes viral

A table set up on Kulanui Street in Laie has toys for sale by 6 kids with a sign that reads "Save Australia + Philippines

Filled with a desire to help those in need throughout the world, Chloe and Lydia Wilson and Jeteijie Curtis said they started selling treats and their toys on a street corner in Laie to raise money for the Philippines and Australia. After Mark Camiso shared a photo of the girls on Facebook, the picture went viral and received more than 58,000 likes and 46,000 shares.

“I’m just happy these kids are helping in their own way … Every little thing they’ve done is affecting the people from [my] home,” said Mark Camiso, a senior from the Philippines studying hospitality and tourism management.

“It’s a good feeling to know there are other people, kids, who are aware of the situation. It brings hope, positivity.”

Curtis, 10, said she came up with the idea for the fundraiser after hearing about the fires in Australia at school.

“My teacher … talked about how she was really sad about the fires [in Australia]. I knew there were fires, but I didn’t know how big they were.... That inspired me to sell. So, I went over to [the Wilson’s] house, and I said, ‘Hey, do you guys want to sell for Australia?’”

Lydia Wilson, 9, explained to her sister, Chloe Wilson, 10, that they wanted to raise money for the Philippines as well because she was learning about the country.

According to Paul Wilson, an assistant professor at BYU–Hawaii, his daughters and Curtis raised nearly $300 through selling various toys and treats as well as receiving donations. The money will be sent to the WWF Australia Bushfire Emergency fund and the NVC Foundation in the Philippines that works to fight hunger and poverty among children and create sustainable livelihoods for their parents, says NVC's website.

Lydia Wilson shared many people opted to donate money instead of buying the toys they were selling. “There was a guy who was driving past us and threw a $20 [bill] out his window.”

Paul Wilson said they had seen much of the support from the neighborhood and online for the fundraiser.

“We have watched as people have stopped and … taken a picture or video. So, there was definitely this positive reaction, and then when I shared it out to my Facebook, I had a friend … match what they raised.”

Camiso said he was going to Foodland with a friend when he noticed the children chanting “Save Australia and the Philippines,” with colorful posters reading the same message.

“I was touched by the kids simple act of kindness because I’m actually from where the volcano eruption is happening [in the Philippines].”

After seeing the girls’ act of service, Camiso decided to share a photo of the children on Facebook, initially only for friends and family. He later decided to make the photo public after the positive response it received on social media.

The photo quickly gained attention online, where the national news in the Philippines later picked it up and ran a story on their late-night broadcast.

“I thought it would be popular for my friends and family at home, but I never thought it would be viral. I didn’t think posting it publicly would reach so many people. Comments from people are so overwhelming, not just for me, but for the kids … because they are all thanking them.”

Camiso said the photo has received only positive comments and messages of gratitude from people around the world. “There’s no negative [comments] at all. They’re all 100 percent positive.”