West Island duo raises money for their Christmas wish lists with craft – Montreal Gazette

West Island girls received over 1,000 orders to draw individualized holiday-theme name tags
After Ashley Nguyen told her nine-year-old daughter, Sophie Ha, that she will only be getting her one item on her Christmas list, she decided to get creative.

Utilizing her drawing skills, Ha began drawing individualized Christmas-theme name tags to sell to her community at 50 cents each so she can save up money to purchase the other items on her Christmas list.
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Within hours of posting her daughter’s initiative on Facebook three weeks ago, Nguyen received dozens of inquiries about her daughter’s festive name tags. In the first two days, almost 600 name tags were commissioned. As of this week, around 1,100 name tags have been ordered.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Nguyen, a Dollard-des-Ormeaux resident. “Sophie is a talented artist, but I just couldn’t believe how many people reached out. Sophie too was freaking out. I told Sophie, “Oh my god, we need to start right away!””

Most requests ask Ha to draw anything Christmas-theme on the name tags, like Christmas trees, snowmen, reindeers, and Christmas dogs. But some put in special requests, asking her to draw Hanukkah-theme name tags, and some have even asked her to create Christmas cards and bookmarks.

“Sophie is very creative,” Nguyen said. “She’s been drawing since she was three years old. She draws all the time. I even carry a pencil and book with me in my purse everywhere we go, because sometimes she asks to draw in the car or in the park. She’s very talented and intelligent, but she always underestimates her work.”

Because drawing is one of Ha’s favourite things to do, she’s having fun with her initiative. She’s hoping to save up for some of the items on her Christmas list: slime, a new memory card for her tablet or a new tablet, Lego, a smartwatch, and a large whiteboard to draw on.

“I was really excited about this,” Ha said. “I like to draw, it’s so much fun. I really love drawing the Christmas trees and snowmen. We also sometimes listen to Christmas music while we do it.

“I like when I give the name tags to people too,” she added. “I like doing this for people and making them happy.”

With the demand in name tags growing, Ha decided to ask her friend Sofia Zhang for help. Together, they will split the earnings, and both be able to save up money for their Christmas gifts.

“We mostly draw Christmas-themed stuff, but some people have special requests. Some things are hard to draw, but most of it is easy,” Zhang said. “I didn’t know there was going to be this many people ordering. But after we did the first 100 name tags without even realizing, it felt easier.”

Zhang says she’s not entirely sure what she wants for Christmas yet but says she’s leaning towards a computer or a smartwatch.

“My parents want me to buy a computer for when I’m older,” she said. “It feels nice to help out other people.”

Thus far, the duo has completed 855 of 1,100 name tags, raising $596.

Zhang goes to her friend’s house almost every day after school to work on these name tags for a few hours. Sometimes, she goes over on the weekends as well. But despite the hard work it requires, her father says he’s happy to see both girls happy.

“I think it’s a good chance for them to spend time together,” Wentao Zhang said. “I didn’t expect so many orders. It’s amazing our girls are enjoying themselves and bringing some happiness to the community.”

He says this year, his company hosted a Christmas art competition among the employee’s children to see who can create the best Christmas card and his daughter, Sofia, won first place.

“We’re very proud of her,” he said. “It’s a good chance for her to draw and do something she loves with her best friend Sophie; they are always together.”

And although the initial goal of this initiative was to save money for Christmas gifts, Nguyen says it has evolved into so much more than that.

“It’s been a very bonding experience as well,” she said. “Rather than watching TV or playing on their tablets, we all spend a lot of time together making these name tags.

“People have offered to get some of the things on Sophie’s list, which is very nice, but I didn’t want that, it was never about that. Both the girls are having fun doing this. They are happy and that makes me happy.”

The two girls are also receiving requests for name tags from other parts of the province as well, like Rawdon, Laval, Saint-Hubert and Greenfield Park. Nguyen has been tracking all the orders in an Excel spreadsheet to ensure they get all the orders completed for Christmas. And with Christmas only a few weeks away, she says they are right on track.

“I am very happy that people are loving what the girls are doing,” Nguyen said. “I enjoy the moment when people come get their name tags and we see how happy they are. Some even write them thank you cards and have brought them treats. Most even pay extra and tell them to keep the change.

“I think they are spreading Christmas cheer in the community,” she added. “It’s very heartwarming.”

Her tour was expected to resume in February.
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