Superintendent’s Spotlight: Ira & Erol Faraoni


Superintendent’s Spotlight: Ira & Erol Faraoni

November 22, 2022

Every year, brothers Ira and Erol Faraoni enjoy visiting with relatives in Davao del Norte, Philippines. Since 2016, those family vacations have served another purpose, as mission trips to provide school supplies and meals to less fortunate children in that rural part of the island country in Southeast Asia.

Ira, now in seventh grade, had the idea to start a charitable organization when he was just seven years old, while spending time outside of his grandparents’ store during that 2016 trip. Ira said he noticed kids walking to school in beat up flip-flops – some even barefoot – carrying their notebooks in plastic shopping bags. Ira was inspired to see the children’s determination to make it to school and get their education, despite not having many of the basic comforts and resources we sometimes take for granted here.

When his mom explained to him that those students could not afford new flip flops or backpacks, and that their schools could not provide bus service, Ira was moved to act, and Ira’s Helping Hands was born. Since launching his organization, Ira Faraoni – assisted by his family – has collected and distributed all kinds of donations to hand out backpacks and school supplies to children from a remote mountain province in the Island of Davao, Philippines.

Erol, a student at Sanfordville Elementary, has been participating in his brother’s charity activities since he was four years old. After seeing how some children his age go to school hungry, he decided to launch his own campaign prior to their mission this past summer.

He created Erol’s Helping Meals, to help feed undernourished children in the region.

“There was a malnourished group of kids in the Philippines; they were really tiny,” said Erol. “So I wanted them to not be hungry anymore.”

Ira’s Helping Hands and Erol’s Helping Meals gave out hundreds of backpacks, hundreds of new flip flops, delivered a mountain of school supplies, and fed more than 100 undernourished children at Sawata Elementary School.

“We went for about a month and a half and we went to the school and we brought a ton of meals for everyone,” said Ira. “We had a whole stage full of backpacks and shoes for everyone.”

Ira said they raise the money for the backpacks, shoes and food through GoFundMe and other fundraising activities. Their mom, Ia Faraoni, is a clothing designer and owner of Ia’s Threads. She also donates some of her profits to her sons’ cause.

“Sometimes we would sell cookies and donuts, and the profit would go to the charity,” explained Ira. “We were selling a ton of baked goods and stuff, and we did that while my mom was selling her things.”

Ira and Erol were nominated for the Superintendent’s Spotlight by Erol’s teacher, Ms. Denise Guido, and WVMS principal Ms. Georgianna Diopoulos for being excellent examples of what it means to be Global & Ethical Citizens – a key characteristic of our district’s Portrait of a Graduate.
Ethical & Global Citizens… exhibit empathy, compassion, and respect for others. They strive to understand a variety of cultures and perspectives outside their own… They consider the issues of the day through the lens of local, national, and global perspectives… Ethical & Global Citizens act with integrity and are community-minded.

“Erol has such a compassionate heart,” said Ms. Denise Guido. “He always wants to help and it makes him feel good to know that he is able to help kids have a better and more comfortable school year.”

Both Ms. Guido and Ms. Diopoulos are struck by how humble the two boys are about the positive and admirable work they are doing.

“Erol is never bragging when he talks about it. He talks about it in a very subtle way, very informative way, just letting people know that there are things anyone can do to help others,” said Ms. Guido.

The brothers promote their mission trips at the website, and also collect monetary donations through the online giving platform GoFundMe. In fact, Ira’s first GoFundMe earned him recognition as a “Kid Hero,” a worldwide campaign created by GoFundMe that recognizes kids making a difference in the world.

“Oh, yea, I was named a kid hero that year,” Ira said, with characteristic modesty about the honor, which earned his organization a $1,000 award from GoFundMe. “There were two in New York, and I was one of them.”

As this season of gratitude and giving begins, the Faraoni brothers are deep into planning and fundraising for their 2023 mission trip. They will be returning to Davao this summer, and even have potential plans to expand their reach into neighboring communities. For all of the planning and logistics involved, Ira and Erol keep their overarching goals simple.

“We want to make sure they have things we might take for granted,” said Ira. “The [students] are really happy when they get the backpacks and other stuff we bring there, and it makes me happy to see them smile.”

And Erol said, “I think I’m going to make more people less hungry, and that makes me happy.”


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