Beth Wilder transformed her 16th birthday into an opportunity to help children ensnared in human trafficking in Asia and Africa.
The sophomore at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket raised more than $2,000 this spring for the Touch A Life Foundation with a walkathon that drew 90 people. She also donated monetary gifts she received for her birthday, May 24.
Wilder said she was inspired to raise money for the foundation after seeing a documentary about childhood slavery on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
"After watching it, I asked my mom if I could donate money from my 'Sweet 16,' " Wilder said. "I just really wanted to help and make a difference."
Of the walkathon, she said: "There was a lot of positive energy." To spread the word about the event, Wilder said she distributed fliers to friends, family and teachers. She was honored for her efforts last month with a Humanitarian Award from the Three Village school district's board of education.
Wilder is planning more fundraisers, such as a bake sale, to further aid the foundation through her school's Key Club.
The foundation's goal is to rehabilitate kids by helping them to express themselves through art and other media.