COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Ella Franz decided for her sweet 16 she wanted to take donations to help one organization fighting racial inequality.
The soon-to-be Berlin junior said the COVID-19 pandemic took away her opportunity of having a huge sweet sixteen party, but she still wanted to do something significant and make a difference.
“My parents kept asking me, ‘What do you want? What do you want for your birthday. This is the big 16, what are you asking for,'” said Franz. “I kind of had the idea that donating would be a good idea since all of the things we’ve seen in the news these past few weeks.”
Instead of thinking of herself on her 16th birthday, Franz decided to think of the moment she’s living in and the people fighting for racial justice.
“It hurts to see it happen because I’m privileged with my color and the school that I get to go to,” Franz said. “To hear the stories of all the people that are being mistreated for doing nothing wrong just because of the way they look it just kind of hurts, and I hate to see it happen.”
After some research, she felt the Columbus Urban League was the organization she wanted to help.
“That’s kind of cool that it’s local,” said Franz. “That’s my town.”
In just a few days, thanks to close friends and family giving her cash and a some help from social media, she’s raised a little more than $1,000 for the organization.
Franz also met the Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of the the Columbus Urban League, who came to thank her personally.
“It’s just a thoughtful gesture, and one that really just warms my heart,” said Hightower.
The money goes directly to their mission of empowering African Americans and disenfranchised groups through economic, educational and social progress.
“This next generation does not want their legacy to really be centered around the racial injustices,” said Hightower.
Franz said she will continue to raise money for organizations that are committed to fighting racial injustice.
Editor’s note: Since this story aired June 24, Ella Franz received more than $2,000 in donations for the Columbus Urban League.