After reading a children’s book on the danger of oil spills to marine life, 6-year-old Audrey Kim asked her parents if she could write a letter to the president, said her father, Richard Kim, 44, of Irvine.
The first-grader at Anneliese Schools in Laguna Beach first had to quiz her father about the salutation, not knowing the president’s surname. After her father supplied the answer, she kept writing: “ I am nervous about oil-spills and is there anything you can do?” which she then mailed to the White House with an address from the internet.
Months went by. Late in November, a large manila envelope postmarked from the White House arrived in the mail. The envelope contained photos of the first family and a personal letter to Audrey from President Obama. “She got really excited,” said her father.
Obama praised her efforts and noted the 265 million acres of land and water that his administration has protected. The local ABC 7 television channel picked up the story and radio station 102.7 KISS FM got involved by donating $1,000 to her cause as well.
“We didn’t plan or think it would blow up like this,” said her father.
Even before the letter arrived, Audrey and her family had already decided to demonstrate their commitment to marine preservation by getting involved with the Pacific Marine Mammal Center in Laguna Beach. “We thought it would be a fun family activity,” Kim said. Setting up fundraising sites on Facebook and a youcaring page for crowd sourcing, Audrey has raised almost $3,000 in total from scores of donors.
“It’s amazing,” said Daniela Moore, the center’s development and marketing director. “We are so grateful for conservation minded children like Audrey to choose to support the patients at PMMC.” It costs about $3,000 to rehabilitate each sea mammal rescue. Funds underwrite medicine and top-quality fish for the patients, who typically require up to a four-month stay before their release.
Becoming a center donor automatically made Aubrey one of its youth ambassadors. With her donation exceeding $1,000, she is now a member of the protector circle. One of the sea lion rescues will also be designated her sea lion and she can watch when it is released back into the ocean, Moore said.
Kim credits Anneliese School’s curriculum and teaching environment with inspiring his daughter.
“This is not just a one-time project, we plan on making it ongoing for the community and the environment,” said Kim.