Birthday boy turns philanthropist

July 2, 2013

Spencer Blumenthal, 8, and his sisters, Meskie (left) and Etta, enjoy squirting clean water from a garden hose in the Blumenthal backyard.  Contributed

Spencer Blumenthal, 8, and his sisters, Meskie (left) and Etta, enjoy squirting clean water from a garden hose in the Blumenthal backyard. Contributed

Spencer Blumenthal, 8-year-old second-grader at Sunny Hills Elementary School, turned his birthday party into a charitable event, raising more than $700 for charity: water. The nonprofit organization brings clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

Spencer “primed the pump” by contributing $40 of his own savings and started the money flowing by asking his friends to make contributions rather than bring presents to his April 1 birthday party.

Spencer’s parents, Cami and Ryan, helped him set up an online link for donations. The campaign closed June 21.

What would cause a boy of 8 years to turn his back on birthday presents in exchange for contributions to a water charity? It began when his parents adopted Etta, an infant from Ethiopia. Shortly after the adoption, they discovered Etta had a sister, Meskie, in an orphanage in Ethiopia and adopted her also.

Meskie came home just shy of her 5th birthday, Cami said.

“What’s been amazing is that she still had a great memory of her time in Ethiopia and could share these stories,” she added. “Where Etta was so much younger as a toddler, Meskie could fill in the gaps for her sister.”

“She had to walk a long way to the nearest river or stream to get water and the water was dirty and had disease in it,” Spencer said of Meskie.

Read more