As the long days of summer begin cooling down, it won’t be long until high school halls are filled with eager minds ready to begin a new school year. Many seniors returning for their final year have a lot on their plate. Whether they’re determined to graduate at the top of their class or conflicted over which career path to choose, there is a lot of pressure on graduating seniors.
Tina Zhang, however, is a soon-to-be senior that is no stranger to managing stress. In addition to her artistic skills with watercolors, acrylics and sketching, Tina also has a knack for philanthropy and event management. For the past two years, Tina has created and managed an annual fundraising event called Youth Art Bridge. Through these events, Tina and her fellow artists have raised thousands of dollars for research and those in need.
“Our mission is reaching out to people in need,” Tina explained. “We began fundraising for sick children and we are involved with the autism community. We recently found Arts4TheCure through the National Foundation for Cancer Research, so we have also expanded our reach to cancer patients.”
The Youth Art Bridge raises funds by auctioning original art pieces created by Tina and her teammates. The team consists of seven core members, ranging from 8th grade students through to 12th graders. In addition to the core team, Tina also recruited 12 volunteers, some as young as 11-years-old! The entire team worked together to bring the event to life. Starting as far out as nine months before the event, the team is busy securing local sponsorships and creating artwork. Many of the local businesses supplied gift cards and other merchandise to be included in the silent auction.
“Our entire community has been so supportive of this event,” Tina shared. “We had a lot of businesses offer generous donations and support. The venue was even provided for free and the owner offered us fundraising tips.”
Even with the generosity of the community, these teens had plenty of hard at work ahead. From making business calls in-between classes to creating advertisements, the Youth Art Bridge team stayed continuously busy. On the night of their event, their hard work proved to have paid off. Guests were invited to explore the silent auction, enjoy appetizers, and watch live performances of local singers, poets, and other artists. The early success of the event was shocking to both Tina and her team.
“We didn’t expect everything to sell,” Tina recalled. “All of the items were getting a lot of interest. So, when our volunteers saw this, they started drawing on-site so we could sell more items.”
Once the event concluded, Youth Art Bridge had sold around 50 original art pieces along with other merchandise. The event raised over $16,000 to support the National Foundation for Cancer Research. The proceeds will be used to fund further research in precision medicine, benefiting the thousands of Americans affected by cancer each year. Though the success of the Youth Art Bridge event comes with months of hard work, Tina is committed to continuing the fundraiser.
“I’ll definitely continue this event while I’m at university,” Tina assured. “We’re hoping this is a lifelong thing, and I hope to continue involving high school students.”