When Mom’s Paychecks Stop, Kid Starts New Business

When Bella Berrellez learned her mother was furloughed, she looked for ways help the family.

Political bickering in Washington means Bella’s mom and hundreds of thousands of other U.S. federal employees won’t get paid until the dispute is resolved. Some federal workers have been sent home, while others work without pay.

Entrepreneur Bella, 11, created homemade body scrubs with various scents and sold them for $7 each to neighbors and online communities. In just two weeks, she has sold more than 400 jars.

“Some of them are from the area. Some are from all over the world. And some are from different parts of the country,” she said of her customers.

Many of them, including 16-year-old Lataija Bonner, are buying the products to show their support during the government shutdown.

“I send kudos to her, because I know a few young kids that are doing what she’s doing, and I’m really proud of her because I know me being 16 and Bella just turned 11 or 12, I know I probably wouldn’t have done it,” Bonner said. “I probably would have been like, ‘Oh sorry Mom. Sorry Dad.’ Like, I don’t know what to do.”

Bella’s mother works for the Food and Drug Administration and is currently furloughed. She is among the 800,000 federal workers who missed a paycheck on Jan. 11.

“My family is OK, and now I felt really, really happy and really good,” Bella said. “And now I’m putting my money back into the business and also donating my money to Nourish Now.”

Nourish Now is a nonprofit organization that collects food from donors like restaurants and cafeterias and distributes it to families in need. The organization also accepts financial contributions from the community.

“It’s amazing to see people from all ages, especially as young as Bella, trying to step forward and help her family out,” said David Joffee, chief program officer at Nourish Now. “It’s just admirable what she is doing. And as you can see in social media and the news, there are so many businesses and organizations out there that are willing to lend a hand. It’s great to see community members of different ages, types, sizes, etc., are willing to do this. It’s a really nice effort that we’ve seen so far.”

Recently, the organization set up a dinner for hundreds of people in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area impacted by the shutdown.

And Bella says she is happy that her effort is helping her family and others.


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