COLLINSVILLE – Local ten-year-old Miguel Billings picked up a baritone to change lives in Haiti, one note at a time.
The Good Shepherd Lutheran School fourth-grader is raising funds to build a home for a Haitian family by playing his baritone outside of his Collinsville home.
The idea came to him after he came home from school last Friday, according to Miguel Billings.
“First he came home and said, ‘I want to practice my baritone to raise money for Haiti,’ we told him that that wasn’t going to make money appear,” his mother, DeeAnn Billings said.
“He started crying at that time and asked me if he could just try,” she said.
“So then, I said ‘Maybe tell me how you think that is going to raise money,” DeeAnn Billings said.
“He said that he ‘just wanted to sit outside on the sidewalk and see if he can raise money,’ which I replied ‘Well we’ll give it a shot and see what happens,’” she said.
Putting the fundraiser on wasn’t a one-person task in the Billings household.
“My 5 and 8 year olds, Isabella and Natalia, helped make cookies the night before, we were up until about midnight preparing for the day and then got everything ready the next morning,” DeeAnn Billings said.
“He started at 10 and went until 5 and took a 10 minute break for lunch which he ate on the sidewalk by his Baritone, he didn’t want to abandon his post,” DeeAnn Billings said.
The neighborhood opened their hearts and their checkbooks to help the musician.
“A lot of the people in the neighborhood have supported him,” DeeAnn Billings said.
“A lady came by and posted in the Collinsville Connection, then people started showing up that same Saturday because they saw the post and wanted to support Miguel,” she said.
After having multiple people ask how they could support the Baritone player, Miguel Billing’s mother set up a Go-Fund-Me page posted it online, according to DeeAnn Billings.
“I had people asking if they weren’t able to make it how could they support it. So I set up a Go-Fund-Me for Miguel and sent it to people that were asking for it and then people starting pouring in donations,” DeeAnn Billings said.
Miguel Billings has raised a little under $2800 since creating the page.
“At his age he really doesn’t know what money means; whether it was someone putting in a quarter or dropping a check for $200 in, it was all the same to him,” DeeAnn Billings said.
The Billings chose between three organizations to have the funds donated to in order to help a Haitian family.
“We were familiar with 3 organizations that work in Haiti because of our church, Copper Creek Christian church in Maryville,” DeeAnn Billings said.
Copper Creek Christian church supports over twenty mission groups, according to DeeAnn Billings.
“We support missions very heavily, we have about 21 missions we support monthly with the church,” she said.
Three of the missions that the church supports are the International Disaster Emergency Services, the Fellowship of Associates of Medical Evangelists, and Lifeline Christian Missions, according to DeeAnn Billings.
“Lifeline started their ministry in Haiti and they help build schools there and they do medical help. They also build homes for Haitian families,” she said.
Several Haitian families live in tents, shacks, or really anything else that can keep them protected from the elements, according to DeeAnn Billings.
Funds raised will go towards building a two-room 12′ by 24′ cement block home, which is constructed by Lifeline’s mission teams and Haitian nationals. The family who is receiving the house supplies the land on which the house is built.
Sharing Miguel’s mission and message is something he wanted to share with other students, according to DeeAnn Billings.
“We made a YouTube video to try to help raise awareness for Haiti, just for encouraging kids, and empowering them to do great things,” DeeAnn Billings said.
“Encouraging kids to get involved and to start thinking differently. That they CAN do things and that everyone has a talent and you can use those talents, and they don’t have to be perfect, to make a difference,” she said.
Friends and schoolmates have also supported Billings in joining him to play outside his home.
“He had a friend some over a few days ago and play trumpet with him because he was inspired and yesterday he had a friend come over today and play trombone with him too,” Miguel Billing’s mother, DeeAnn Billings said.
Miguel Billings will ‘keep playing on’ until he raises enough funds to meet his goal.
“I’ve been here playing since I got home from school and then I’m going to keep playing on,” Miguel Billings said.
To donate to Miguel’s cause visit: https://www.gofundme.com/build-a-home-in-haiti/