INTERLOCHEN — Briana Harrier’s parents couldn’t afford to buy Christmas presents when she was seven years old, but Lake Ann Elementary School staff and others made sure the family had gifts.
“I’ve never forgotten that moment,” said the Grand Traverse Academy ninth-grader. “I wasn’t really old enough then to understand what was going on, but I remember how happy my parents were and how happy I was.”
Briana also has not forgotten other families and children facing similar challenges this holiday season. Briana, 15, has turned into something of a young philanthropist.
In 2012, she donated $50 — half of the money her parents would have spent on her Christmas gifts — to a couple whose daughter was struggling with brittle bone disease.
In 2013, she asked her parents, Deb and Dave Harrier, if they would give the $100 they planned to spend on her to buy gifts for two foster children involved in the Child & Family Services “Paper Angels” wish list program.
And a few days before Thanksgiving, she donated $201 to Charity Hill Therapeutic Ranch Riding Center near Rapid City in Kalkaska County.
Briana earned the money by selling 80 pop tab bracelets she made last summer. She sold them for $2.50 to $3 at school, church, area farm markets and Marvin’s Garden Spot near Interlochen. The Garden Spot is owned by her grandparents, Marv and Marsha Blackford, who also own a farm near Lake Ann.
Members from Briana’s church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Traverse City, helped her collect the pop tabs from used soda cans.
It takes 26 tabs to make one bracelet for an average wrist, Briana said. She spends up to 90 minutes painting, adding glitter or preparing the tabs and between 10 and 12 minutes putting each bracelet together.
Briana said she decided to give the $201 to Charity Hill Ranch because she had heard good things about it from her cousin, who has autism and her younger sister Kirsten, who is diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome.