Thirteen-year-old Bella Moses has a big heart and an even bigger desire to help those in need. Instead of receiving gifts for her recent bat mitzvah, she decided to improve people’s lives.
In celebration of Bella’s coming-of-age—a significant moment in Judaism where a child is deemed responsible for their actions and obligated to observe the commandments—Bella asked friends and family to make donations to three non-profit organizations, including Oregon Cancer Foundation.
Bella was all smiles when she visited Willamette Valley Cancer Institute and Research Center last month to present more than $3,000 to the Foundation, which provides stopgap financial assistance to patients receiving cancer-related services, so they don’t have to choose between treatment and basic needs.
“My parents always taught me and my brother that we need to do what’s right and help people who are suffering,” Bella said.
Doctors David Fryefield, Benjamin Cho, and Jae Lee, visibly moved by the teen’s generosity, accepted the donations on behalf of the Foundation.
“This money will go towards helping people maintain their lives while they’re going through something as overwhelming as cancer,” Dr. Fryefield told Bella. “To understand how important that is at your age is inspiring.”
Dr. Lee said, “I’m very proud of your parents for bringing you up and raising you the way they have. I am also proud of you, and I do feel that what you give will be multiplied by God many folds in the future, so thank you very much.”
For Bella, this donation is special. Her mother, Serafina, is fighting her sixth recurrence of head and neck cancer. Growing up, Bella accompanied her mom to many of her treatment appointments at WVCI; and she feels fond of the doctors, nurses, and staff.
“We would come here with my mom and I would see so many friendly faces,” Bella said. “The doctors would say ‘hi’ to me and I would watch how they were caring for people, and it always made me feel good. I’ve always wanted to be able to return the favor.”
Bella also made donations to St. Vincent de Paul’s First Place Family Center and Luvable Dog Rescue in Eugene. Her friends often call her an angel for the kindness she shows to them and to strangers, but Bella doesn’t do it for the attention. In fact, she admits she was nervous being interviewed by a TV news crew about her donation. Bella agreed to the interview because she’s hoping to inspire more teens to step up and give back in some way.
“I try to tell kids my age it’s not about us,” she said. “It’s about everybody. And I want them to know that if they want to give back, there are ways to make a difference.”
Making a difference is something Bella plans to continue doing throughout her life.
“In 20 years, I hope to be doing so much more to help non-profits, that I will look back on this day and say, ‘Wow, that was really the beginning of my great adventure in helping people who need it.'”