Keefer Brown, 13, of Wasilla, Alaska, a seventh-grader at Teeland Middle School, raised more than $3,500 to help rehabilitate sick and injured seals at the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward by making and selling candles and other items decorated with shells and seaweed that he collected on the beach. During a school field trip in 2010, Keefer learned that he could "adopt" an animal at the SeaLife Center for $50. "I chose a harbor seal because I like their playful attitude, soulful eyes and intelligent nature," he explained.
After discussing the idea with his parents, Keefer raised the $50 by selling candles decorated with items he collected on the beach. "I spend a lot of time during the summer at my grandparents' cabin in Seldovia and like to walk the beach and collect shells and other items washed up during high tide," he said. He spoke with many tourists and local residents about his candles and his fundraising goal, and ended up
raising $1,300 that first summer. The next summer he sold decorated picture frames, mirrors and wreaths, in addition to candles, earning another $2,300 for the SeaLife Center. To show its appreciation, the center honored Keefer at a gala in Anchorage, and allowed him to name a baby seal and attend the release of two harbor seals into the wild. "It was a great day," said Keefer, adding that he is now inspired to do even more to "help the declining population of harbor seals."