Twelve-year-old Lucas Alteri of Ellsworth will be going into the 7th grade this coming fall. But he recently did something that was quite grown up (and in my humble opinion, quite awesome!)

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You see, Lucas's family bought a house this year. And as anyone who's ever done that knows, that's not a cheap thing to do. So, understandably, money has been on the tighter side this summer. For the past couple of years, Lucas has taken part in The Grand's Summer Intensive Theater Camp. But he knew that paying for that this year might not be in the budget for his family, under the circumstances. (That realization alone, for a 12-year-old, is a pretty mature one, but he went beyond realization to take action, which requires an even more maturity.)

So Lucas got creative and put together a bottle drive to raise money so he could go to camp. He also applied for a camp scholarship through the Ellsworth Elementary/Middle School.

Bottle Drive, Elizabeth Alteri
Bottle Drive, Elizabeth Alteri

His parents supported him 100%, knowing what a positive impact this camp has had on Lucas. His mom, Elizabeth Alteri, said this would be the third year Lucas will have participated.

"He has always been really shy and quiet. He decided he wanted to do the 'Wizard of Oz' play at The Grand, and it completely brought him out of his shell. He loved it. I saw him change and his confidence grow in just a short period of time. He has since participated in other plays at The Grand, including 'Music Man'. He also did 'Aladdin' at school the year before last."

Lucas was able to raise $185.60 to pay for camp!

But on the first day of the camp, something pretty great happened, as his mom explains:

"He found out the first day of camp, after he had collected a bunch of bottles, that he had gotten a scholarship from school."

So his camp experience would be covered by the scholarship.

But Lucas had $185.60.

Now, a lot of kids would have spent that money on something they wanted to buy, or maybe even saved that money.

But not Lucas.

"He knew it wasn’t his money to keep and wanted to help someone else. He has always been that kind a boy super kind, and always thinking of others. He asked if there were other kids who were having trouble paying."

His mom says she asked The Grand camp organizers, on Lucas's behalf, and was told there was one child that needed help paying this year.

So Lucas donated the money he had earned from the bottle drive, all $185.60, to scholarship that kid. 

Bottle Drive, Elizabeth Alteri
Bottle Drive, Elizabeth Alteri

As a fellow Theater person myself, I know I learned a lot of what serves me as an adult, through my experiences working in community and professional theater. And I've seen many a shy wallflower individual blossom into an amazing, outgoing personality under the influence of theater's magic. So I get why Lucas loves it. And I get why his family loves it. And I'm so glad and proud of Lucas for paying it forward, and helping to make sure to share that experience with another kid in his community.

His mom says she knows what Lucas is getting out of this situation is invaluable:

"He loves it. He loves that he can play pretend and he says one of his favorite parts is that everyone is included."

And thanks to Lucas and his bottle money, everyone has been included this year.

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