Video inspires 11-year-old to give back to community

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By Billy Ludt


A Youngstown girl has decided to take her allowance earnings and put it all aside to help people less fortunate than herself.

Leah Lengyel is 11 and going on 12, and started her first week of school at St. Christine School on Monday. She’s the oldest of six children, has aspirations to become a marine biologist and her mother, Suzanne Lengyel, said she helps a great deal around the house.

“The idea of her saving all of her allowance was beyond my belief,” Suzanne said. “I wasn’t expecting a girl her age to spend her savings to helping others.”

Leah’s decision to give back was motivated by a social experiment video she watched on YouTube that compared how much money a homeless person could earn by what they’re wearing. She saw this video around Christmastime.

One person in the video was dressed in expensive attire, and the other wore dirtier clothes. They sat on street corners asking pedestrians and drivers for money, and by the end, the person in cleaner clothes earned the most money.

“She was so upset after watching it,” Suzanne said. “At first she wanted Christmas presents, but after that, she wanted to do something else.”

Opting out of any presents for herself, Leah went with her mom and put together a care package to give away. Then she started saving her allowance money.

“It’s just an idea she had, and I want to inspire her,” Suzanne said.

Leah added: “But I’ve always wanted to try to help.”

Living in Youngstown, the Lengyels always had seen homeless people in their area. Leah said she was curious about why people were living in tents under bridges along the Mahoning River.

“I’m just seeing everybody out in the streets, and nobody was doing anything to help them,” she said.

Suzanne said that her family might not have everything in life, but there are people in worse situations than their own. “We always have to help in any way we can,” she said.

Leah has saved $140 from doing laundry and other tasks at home. As of this past weekend, she used some of that money to purchase 20 backpacks. The rest of her money will go toward filling the 20 backpacks with necessities for colder weather and hygiene, such as scarves, blankets, stocking caps, deodorants and some with feminine products.

In October, Leah and Suzanne will hand the backpacks out to people from the area in need of them.

“And then you get that feeling of when you help someone out with something,” Leah said. “I want to see other people giving back as well.”

When asked how she feels as a mother about Leah’s efforts, Suzanne said: “The word ‘pride’ doesn’t even describe it. Leah does so well in school, and has higher grades than most of the other students. If there was a word that meant more than pride, I’d use it. And I hope even adults can learn from her, too.”

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