by Douglas Abrams
“I never thought that at 16 I could have raised even a little money and awareness,” said junior Shira Stonehill. But Stonehill has done just that by selling her own original artwork to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Association.
Created in 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association is a massive nonprofit working to end Alzheimer’s. The association helps to spread awareness, promote research related to dimentia, and provide care for those affected.
“Most of my art that I sell is reprinted on items like phone cases, mugs, t-shirts, and my most-bought item, little buttons,” said Stonehill. She uses Zazzle and Society6, two art merchandising websites, to sell her variety of artwork and a Facebook page to promote it. She donates all her proceeds to the organization, she said.
For Stonehill, involvement with the Alzheimer’s Association did not begin with her art. She started raising money when she participated in the Walk to end Alzheimer’s, forming a team with her two cousins Arielle and Hannah Alford, she said.
“I am eternally grateful for their support,” said Stonehill. “Ever since the walk, they have been liking, sharing, and promoting every post on my page, bugging their friends to walk and buy and donate. They are truly my best friends and my biggest fans.”
With the help of her family, Stonehill surpassed her original goal for the walk, which was to raise 100 dollars. “After a couple days, we were at nearly $500 so we increased the goal,” she said. “I cannot express my family’s gratitude and me and my cousins’ awe that we reached a total of over $1200.”
Even though she fulfilled her goal during the walk, Stonehill said that she wanted to continue raising money for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“I was inspired by the volunteers and troops of walkers, from people living with Alzheimer’s to people who just wanted to end it, to make a difference far beyond the walk,” said Stonehill. “I knew that there was a constant need for donations, so why not do something long-term to spread awareness by using my love of art to raise money for an important cause?”
Now, just months later, Stonehill’s work has made an impact. Her Facebook page has 219 “likes” and counting. Stonehill has already raised over $100 from art sails alone. Over thirty teenagers have purchased her buttons.
“People have been nothing but supportive,” said Stonehill. “I feel so grateful that I am a part of such a kind and giving community here at Newton North High School.”
However, Stonehill’s work is not solely a money-raising tool—it is also beautiful. Her work is varied, ranging from melancholic to comical, from abstract to realistic. In one piece, Stonehill drew three skulls in black and white, filling the background of the page with rainbow colored flowers. In others, she used a colorful picture of space, with purple and blue as the background, and put pictures of french fries, ketchup and chicken nuggets on top of it. In another, there is a purple castle, painted in the Alzheimer’s Association’s color.
Junior Bali Connors, who purchased one of Stonehill’s phone cases, said that Stonehill’s work has helped to advocate for the Alzheimer’s Association.
“I definitely think it’s helped to spread awareness, and her Facebook page is a great way to spread it as well,” said Connors. “I think overall it’s been really successful and people ask about my case all the time, so that’s a great way to spread awareness too. It’s a great cause and she’s doing an amazing job promoting the charity. I love it.”
Connors is not alone in her appreciation and admiration of Stonehill’s work. On Stonehill’s Facebook page, the same few words keep coming up in comments: “love,” “proud,” and “inspired.”