BILLINGS — Beatrice Bentler, a 13-year-old Billings student, raised about $6,000 through her Bee's Trees project to help buy Christmas presents for kids young and old.
“It was a community service project. What I decided to do is sell these Christmas tree ornaments and the money I made I would use to buy gifts for kids who are spending Christmas in the hospital," Bentler told Q2 Monday.
Each ornament had a bee painted on it, a symbol of community.
Bentler was able to donate to three different organizations this holiday season. She gave toys to kids stuck in the St. Vincent hospital in Billings on Christmas day.
She was also able to donate gift cards to all three Billings high schools for their gift card drives. And she donated to Zoe's Fund, a Red Lodge-based organization that takes less fortunate kids on adventures.
"Not everybody is as fortunate to get a lot of presents or even presents at all on Christmas Eve or have anything. So we thought it was really important to not only donate to kids in the hospital but also to some other things that we thought would be really helpful for people," Bentler said.
The St. Vincent Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the hospital, liked what Bentler was doing so much that they decided to match the money she raised dollar for dollar. This brought the amount she could give back to $6,000.
A lot of generous people helped Bentler accomplish her goal.
“Not only was the St. Vincent foundation very helpful in matching every dollar. But Michaels craft store gave me a discount on all my paints. I’ve been very appreciative of all the people who have helped me out with this," Bentler said.
Bentler spent hours hand painting 300 ornaments. She sold them on a web site she created herself and an Instagram page. People locally, and across the country from as far away as Florida, Kansas and Connecticut bought ornaments.
“We even had a lady order 40 ornaments," Bentler said. "People have been very generous. And I’ve gotten a lot of donations. They didn’t even want a tree, they just gave me donations. People have just been so helpful to help me do this thing that I wanted to do.”
Bentler knew she wanted to help the hospital in some way when she started the project.
“I knew I wanted to do something with the hospital because I want to be a doctor when I grow up. And I really like kids. I love to babysit, and I love Christmas. It all worked out perfectly," Bentler said.
The hospital donation has a personal connection for the 8th grade student. She was in and out of the childrens hospital in Billings and other places when she was younger.
“I know if I was in the hospital, if somebody would have came and given me a gift, it would have been really meaningful. It would have meant a lot to me. So I really wanted to do that for these kids. But not only are we giving presents to the kids but we’re also getting presents for the parents spending time in the hospital with their kids," Bentler said.