Girl, 9, Raises Over $50K Selling Friendship Bracelets to Help Minneapolis Residents in Need
Kamryn Johnson and her friends have been selling the bracelets to assist those who were affected by the coronavirus pandemic or looting
Kamryn Johnson has been making and selling the colorful bracelets with friends outside of her Minnesota home for less than two weeks, but has already helped raise over $50,000 for those in need, Fox affiliate KMSP reported.
"I like helping people and I just hope the money that we earn that we can build up some black businesses and provide the food and water that they need," she explained to Good Morning America.
Not only has Kamryn seen the monetary benefits of her efforts, but she and her parents Ron and Shani Johnson told GMA they also noticed how the bracelets have encouraged their non-Black neighbors to engage in important conversations about race.
"In a neighborhood where nobody else looks like her, now to see everybody kind of come together, understanding differences don't mean we can't be friends, it just means we're different," said Ron, a sports analyst and former wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens.
"We are having conversations," Shani added to GMA. "Not only are we meeting some of these neighbors for the first time, we are going deep right away into the issues happening in the world right now."
Kamryn first started selling the bracelets after her friend Tanner came up with the idea in the wake of police brutality protests following the death of George Floyd, she told KMSP.
The homemade creations quickly took off, as donations poured in from neighbors, family members and many of Ron's friends, including former Minnesota Vikings player Chad Greenway, former NFL player and television host Anthony Adams, and president of the University of Minnesota, Joan Gabel, KMSP reported.
Pretty soon, the kids had raised thousands of dollars, which they plan on donating to those who were affected by the pandemic or saw their businesses get destroyed by vandalism and lootings.
"Every time a customer comes, we always tell them why we're doing this," Kamryn explained to GMA.
Shani recalled how a man showed up to their bracelet stand after driving more than 30 minutes and expressed his sorrow over Floyd's death to the Johnson family.
"He just started crying and he just said, 'I'm so sorry,'" Shani told GMA. "Not only are we getting to have these conversations that we normally wouldn't want to have, [but] people are willing to do differently, to act different[ly], so this world can be changed."
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Reflecting on their daughter's actions, Shani and Ron told GMA they were incredibly "proud" for the way Kamryn took action with her friends.
"This turned into a bigger idea than we could ever have imagined," Shani said. "It's teaching all of us that we all have a role and a part to play in this race and fight for justice. Ours looks very different than other people's and that's okay, but I think the main thing we want her to learn is how to put other people before herself... we're just so proud to watch her live that out."
"Just what she's done, the way her friends have come together. She's been extremely selfless and that's tough to find in kids sometimes," Ron added. "But she's done it, and she's made us extremely proud."
The former athlete noted that he was especially moved "seeing a white arm, a black arm, a brown arm… just the picture of different kids out there all pushing for one initiative, no judgment, no biases about each other."
Both parents also agree that the kids' actions will have long-lasting impacts, even if they're not entirely aware of it right now.
"I don't know that they'll really fully understand the impact they're having until they're older about what a big deal this was," Shani told GMA. "They're just loving well and serving well, and if we can all do that, I don't even know what this world can become."
As of Monday afternoon, there have been over 1.9 million cases and at least 110,697 deaths attributed to coronavirus in the United States, according to the New York Times. In Minnesota, at least 28,235 cases and 1,208 deaths have been reported, according to the Times.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.
To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:
• Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
• ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
• National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help black youth succeed in college and beyond.