Kidsburgh heroes: 5 heartfelt projects driven by Pittsburgh kids

Pittsburgh kids are doing their part to help the community. From collecting loose change for charity and making face masks to donating food and lifting spirits, the simple, heartfelt actions of these kids are setting a good example for us all.

Do you know any young heroes? Send an email to and share their stories with us.

1. Emma Schartner and Kate Sharbaugh

These two pals created a pop-up pantry in Friendship. Emma Schartner, 11, of Highland Park and Kate Sharbaugh, 12, of Upper Burrell, are collecting non-perishable food items and toiletries to stock their Little Lime Pantry. The 6-foot-tall, lime-green china cabinet is located outside of Fourth Presbyterian of Pittsburgh, 5450 Friendship Ave.

The congregation, which includes the Schartner family, along with members of the Sharbaughs’ house of worship, Pittsburgh Seventh-day Adventist Church in Observatory Hill, helped organize a donation drive.

People can walk up and take what they need – and give what they can. The girls ask that visitors wash their hands before accessing the pantry (disinfectant wipes are provided, along with a trash can) and practice social distancing when waiting in line.

The name of the project came from the paint color of the cabinet, but LIME also stands for Loving, Inspiring, Ministering and Encouraging. Emma, Kate and their families hope to add more pantries and encourage others to open similar sites in their communities.

To donate, visit the website or call 724-257-1031.

2. Maddy and Leenie Cousins

Sisters Maddy and Leenie Cousins are staying active to support Pittsburgh healthcare workers. Along with mom, Jen Miller Cousins, the girls hosted an Exercise-a-Thon on Facebook. They biked, ran and walked laps around Sunnyside Elementary School in Stanton Heights to raise money.

By the time their workout was over, Maddy, 9, and Leenie, 5, had $525 in donations.

The family put the funds toward Caliente Pizza & Draft House’s Meal Train efforts. For every $10 raised through the online donation platform, the local restaurant chain is delivering pizza to employees in Pittsburgh-area hospitals.

That’s a good deal any way you slice it.

3. Brett Baron

When he realized there were people in need, Brett Baron went on a treasure hunt around his Squirrel Hill home.  He pulled coins from between the couch cushions, emptied his piggy bank and donated the money to United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, where his dad, Adam Baron, works.

Together, they brainstormed ways to give more. The pair penned letters to family and friends, encouraging them to donate to the cause. Within 24 hours, their personal campaign generated $1,000 from 19 good Samaritans.

So far, the third-grader at Community Day School has raised $2,232 to help United Way continue their critical work across five counties.

Brett is particularly concerned about the plight of the homeless. He helps prepare and deliver food to shelters and soup kitchens in Pittsburgh and Columbus, Ohio, where his grandparents live.

4. Ava Arnold

Ava Arnold has developed a helpful hobby under quarantine. The 11-year-old Wexford girl designs, makes and donates face masks.

When her mom, a nursing home employee, lamented the fact that there weren’t enough face masks to go around the facility, Ava sprang into action. A lifelong crafter, she gathered a T-shirt, string and pipe cleaners to create a prototype and has gone on to make nearly 200 washable face coverings.

She’s donated her handiwork to local churches and businesses. Art Kleitz, owner of Advance Sewing Technologies, gave a new sewing machine to the cause.

Ava dubbed the initiative Kids Making a Difference: One Mask at a Time. On the organization’s Facebook page, there’s a step-by-step video on how to make and correctly wear the masks.

She’s happy to spend her free time helping her community and hopes other kids will be inspired to do the same.

5. Victoria Semenov, Lauren Glassbrenner, Ammar Kethavath, Isaac Yap and Sam Scalzo

A group of Upper St. Clair High School sophomores decided to help ensure kids have access to meals while schools remain closed. Victoria Semenov (from left in photos above), Lauren Glassbrenner, Ammar Kethavath, Isaac Yap and Sam Scalzoare are hoping to raise more than $700 through an online T-shirt sale.

They designed an Upper St. Clair T-shirt that sells for $25, with proceeds of each sale benefiting No Kid Hungry. T-shirts are available through May 24.

Printed with the message “Together – While Apart,” the T-shirts remind students that, despite social distancing efforts, they are not alone.

“Just about all of us are home right now with our families,” Ammar says, “but that doesn’t mean that we can’t collaborate and make a positive difference together.”