Eight-year-old Skylar Mitchell couldn't contain his excitement when he saw how much money he received for a month's worth of hard work. He is even more exited to send the money off to New York for a Hurricane Sandy relief fund.
Skylar, a Laurel Oak Elementary second grade student, collected a total of $3,905, as of Feb. 4, by setting up bottles at his school and a few local businesses.
"I can't believe there's that much money in all the bottles," Skylar said after collecting them all. "I'm happy that everyone participated."
Skylar's aunt Doreen Moran challenged Skylar to help the people of New York two weeks after Hurricane Sandy.
Moran, a New York resident, reminded Skylar how she always supported his fundraisers and suggested he should return the favor.
Karen Mitchell, Skylar's mother, then showed him a video of the destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy to the Northeast.
The devastating images stuck with Skylar and by the next morning he had devised a plan to help.
Skylar got permission from his school's principal, Marilou Andrews, to place bottles in every classroom so people could drop change in to support his cause.
He originally wanted to collect dimes from the children at Laurel Oak Elementary in order send to the East Rockaway Education Foundation to help the schools in New York.
"I felt really bad that they did not have their schools anymore," Skylar said.
Skylar and his grandparents, Joseph and Rosemary Hamberger, made 781 bags before winter break began to send to all the students of Laurel Oak Elementary.
He then gathered 49 two-liter bottles, with the help of his grandparents, friends and family, and melted a hole in each bottle so people could drop dimes in.
Once the money poured in, it was obvious they were going to collect much more than dimes.
Inside the bottles and bags were notes, change, cash, checks and even a Bohemian dollar bill.
"(Skylar) is the only one who can take real credit for it," Karen Mitchell said.
Skylar's project has created excitement around his school.
"This is not all about an 8-year-old who was challenged, which created a vision," Karen Mitchell said. "It's more about the people who made his vision to help a school in need become a reality."
A fellow Laurel Oak Elementary student even started a lemonade stand to help Skylar's cause.
The Hurricane Sandy relief fund is just one of Skylar's many projects.
Karen Mitchell said Skylar has taken over the guest bedroom of the Mitchell house and turned it into his office space where he worked on his Hurricane Sandy relief project and other various school fundraisers.
Skylar has spent time at Bentley Village with his Boy Scout troop this winter, and he attended a camp at the Naples Preserve and Hedges Family Eco-Center.
Skylar, whose aspiration to help others follows the Mitchell family tradition, said he started caring for lizards he caught before he was able to walk.
Part of Skylar's inspiration came from his mother.
Karen Mitchell's grandfather had taken her along with him to Meals on Wheels when she was a child.
As a tribute to her grandfather, Karen Mitchell began taking Skylar to Meals on Wheels every Friday when he was 3 years old. Skylar worked with the program for three and a half years.
"A lot of who kids are comes from their parents and who you surround them with," Karen Mitchell said.
Anyone interested in supporting Skylar's fund can send a check written out to the East Rockaway Education Foundation and sent to the care of De Marco Tile at 3527 Domestic Avenue, Naples, FL 34104.