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Six-year-old Canadian girl gives up birthday gifts for Syrian children

When Anna Puopolo turned five, she raised money for UNICEF’s work with children around the world. “This year,” she says, “we decided to do something a little bigger.”

For Anna’s sixth birthday, she decided to launch a $2,000 Kickstarter campaign and, with the help of her parents, asked all her friends and family to make a donation for Syrian children instead of buying her birthday gifts. The campaign reached its goal within the first week, and raised $3,000 in the end.

“It’s important to help other kids, no matter where they are,” she says. “You can’t just think of yourself! People might die if you just think about yourself.”

Anna may just be six years old, but she’s also the host of the Anna Show on YouTube, has her own Twitter and Facebook pages and is the CEO of Kidviewed, a self-described Yelp for kids. She dreams of becoming a veterinarian, “but I’m already an entrepreneur,” she says.

Anna hopes that the money she raised for UNICEF will help provide food, water, medicine and shelter for vulnerable Syrian children, “the important things” as she calls them.

After more than six years of war in Syria, more than eight million children are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Today, 1.7 million Syrian children are out of school. Families have been thrown into poverty and are struggling to make even the most basic ends meet. Children have often been forced to become their family’s sole breadwinners.

With more than 200 staff inside Syria leading efforts to minimize the impact of the crisis on children, UNICEF is providing millions of people with access to safe water. We’re distributing learning supplies, providing children with psychosocial support and vaccinating children against measles and polio. In neighbouring countries, we’re enrolling hundreds of thousands of refugee children in formal education and providing them with nutritional support.

Canadians across the country just like Anna have been supporting UNICEF’s life-saving efforts in response to the crisis. The Canadian Government matched donations to the Syrian relief fund from September 2015 to February 2016, which saw $31.8 million donated from individual Canadians. The Government’s match went entirely to UNICEF to increase the number of vulnerable and conflict-affected children who can access education in Jordan and Syria and to support a nationwide vaccination campaign in Syria.

Despite the generous response, millions of children are still at risk. That’s why efforts like Anna’s are so important in providing life-saving assistance to Syrian children.

After raising beyond her target, Anna said, “I was so proud that others helped me reach my goal to help people who need it.”

UNICEF is proud of you, too, Anna!

To help UNICEF continue providing life-saving support to children affected by the Syrian crisis, click here.

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