Annapolis third-grader meets challenge to help others

Gemma Love WGemma Love is a fairy godmother of sorts. She is raising funds to benefit children affected by cancer and is even teaching them how to make fairy furniture.

The 9-year-old from Annapolis has joined “My Peak Challenge,” a campaign started by the “Outlander” television series star Sam Heughan to raise funds for blood cancers and encourage people to set fitness goals and try new things. As part of the challenge, Gemma has learned to ice skate, has set rock wall climbing goals and set a goal of raising $1,000 for kids affected by cancer in Anne Arundel County.

She started a GoFundMe site and has has already met her goal through donations and other endeavors, according to her mother, Diana Love.

“Gemma was committed to helping children in Annapolis as one of her challenges and asked me to facilitate finding a way that she could become engaged,” Diana explains. “She wanted to meet the children, talk to them.”

So Gemma spoke to Deb Smith at Wellness House in Annapolis — which services those touched by cancer — and they agreed to let her teach a class on building fairy homes and accessories to the children there, Diana says.

“She went to Wellness House for an interview and got dressed as though she was a 30-year-old, with a pad and a pen,” her mother says.

Gemma is very into fairies and builds fairy houses and accessories out of cardboard and decorates them with natural items such as sticks, pebbles, seashells and leaves. She has taught classes to friends in her home and to a group at Whole Foods Market in Annapolis, with all of the proceeds going toward her goal. Part of the funds from her GoFundMe site will go toward building an outdoor fairy garden at Wellness House, Diana explains.

The staff at Wellness House is thrilled with Gemma's efforts.Gemma Love Fairy House W

“[Gemma] is delightful, very bright and very focused and determined,” says Smith, director of Wellness House. “She has got to be one of the youngest fundraisers ever!”

Gemma has also collected donations of toys and books for children in the pediatric oncology unit of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., and is holding a Band-Aid Drive at her school, West Annapolis Elementary, for the pediatric oncology unit at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore — where she heard children get excited to pick out Band-Aids after procedures.

Diana is proud of her daughter and is thankful for “My Peak Challenge” for the difference it's made in their lives.

“Sometimes children don't hear or believe their parents when we tell them how great they are, no matter how we verbalize or show it,” Diana says. “I wanted Gemma to learn for herself, through her own experience and journey, that wonderful and essential feeling of self-satisfaction when a goal is achieved, when a good deed has been done, when we have used our time and talent to help others.”

On her part, Gemma is just glad to help kids touched by cancer.

“Lots of other kids out there probably won't get better, and I wanted them to have nice things,” she says. “It feels good to make kids be a little bit happy.”

To donate visit gofundme.com/westandwithsam.

By Betsy Stein

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