Giving is a big part of Christmas. Some people do it automatically and naturally. Others not so much. Carter Phillips, 7, belongs in the former category.
The Grade 2 Elmer S. Gish student, along with his mother Celeste, recently posted he was selling fabric-made bracelets to buy a computer. Carter, who owns a collection of about 40 Rubik's cubes, was selling bracelets to buy a high-powered computer to work on his new hobby: coding.
Coding is likely not your average Grade 2 student’s idea of a good time, however, Carter is enrolled in Gish’s Cogito program, a structured, knowledge-based program for students working at a high level of academic excellence. He is a curious, voracious learner, and anything math-based attracts his attention.
Using YouTube videos, Carter is a self-taught video editor, junior magician, and now wants to create games and applications through coding. And not just two-symbol binary coding with 0 and 1. He’s into Java script, HTML, Python and C#.
“I like beat boxing, too. When you’re good at it, you can’t stop doing it,” he says with a big grin splitting his face.
All the ambitious boy needed to start coding was the right computer. While selling bracelets online, one buyer who worked for Dell, impressed with Carter’s savvy and gung-ho attitude, offered to sell him a new computer at a reduced rate.
He now has a computer and 200 leftover bracelets to sell. As shoppers continue to buy his bracelets, the young man is donating the proceeds to Jenna’s Wish. The family-directed charitable organization accepts donations to provide Stollery Children’s Hospital children and their families with gifts and necessities during the holiday season.
Not only is the Phillips family donating the remaining proceeds to Jenna’s Wish, but Carter has already written 50 personal "get-well” cards to children in hospital care.
“I was so emotional when I saw that. My wife was, too — to see this seven-year-old think of others who are sick. He was showing us what we should all be doing. When you see kids do good for others, it lifts you up,” said Darren Clements, Jenna Marko’s father.
Seven-year-old Jenna passed away in November 2019 from adrenal cortical carcinoma, a rare cancer that attacks the adrenal glands. While in the Stollery in 2018, her large extended family sent boxes of presents.
Clements mentioned there were 14 beds in the ward, but there was not enough money to buy gifts for stocking stuffers. In many cases, parents barely had enough money to buy a cup of coffee let alone a gift.
He added, “Jenna said, ‘Daddy, I don’t need all these presents.’ And she allowed each kid to pick a present.”
A while later, Jenna watched a Princess Diana documentary and was impressed with the royal’s compassion highlighting those in need. Knowing her life would be short, Jenna announced she, too, wanted to help others. As the 2019 Christmas approached, her wish was to give all children staying at the hospital a gift. Jenna’s parents accompanied her to Toys R Us where she selected presents for everyone.
Jenna died Nov. 22, 2019, but it was her selfless gestures that inspired family and many strangers to remember children at a most vulnerable stage in their life.
“She was a giving, loving girl and she touched our hearts. It’s really inspiring when children show us their humanity,” Clements said, his voice choking with suppressed emotion.
Anyone who would like to order a bracelet for $3 is encouraged to visit "Carter’s Bracelets" Facebook page.