Sam Kieffer

What do you do when you learn about a problem?

If you are like most of us, you are probably moved with compassion (at least a little), and wish better for the people or situation.  Maybe you even stop and pray, or do a little research on the situation.

Sadly, very few of us (I’m including myself here) ever decide to do something about it. Taking action often feels like something for somebody else to do.

Sam Kieffer sees it a bit differently.  Sam is the kind of guy who wants to do something about it. At the ripe old age of 9, he has already started three significant projects to help improve the lives of those around him.

Sam’s Blessing Box


You may have seen a blessing box or something similar as you’ve driven around town. Sam had, too, and decided that his home area of Cheswick could use one. The idea is pretty simple, but very helpful. Every community has people in need. Sometimes it’s temporary; others times it’s more of a long-term situation. Why not create a little station (or box) where someone with needs could stop by and anonymously pick up a few food or personal items to help them when life is difficult?

Sam’s Blessing Box is located on Jacoby Road. It’s busy enough that he has to restock it twice a week. The top two shelves have a variety of non-perishable food items (he tells me that staple items like flour and sugar go especially fast), and the bottom shelf rotates between personal items and seasonal gifts.  It’s become well-enough-known around his Indiana Township home area that many people have joined in on providing donations and even commented that they were inspired to do something similar.

Save the Brains

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Moved by his father’s fight with brain tumors, Same has taken it upon himself to find a way to end them. Specifically, he has started a fundraising project that he calls “Save the Brains,”  which has raised over $7,000 dollars since he started it two summers ago as a 7-year-old.

The money raised by Save the Brains goes to the Epidermoid Brain Tumor Society (EBTS) to help combat a rare form of brain tumor.  Sam raises money via a Go-Fund-Me page and a Lemonade Stand that happens throughout the year.  The next event will be held on May 12th at the Middle Road Soccer Field Complex in Glenshaw.

Just to round out the impressive things about this young man: he’s also a published author. He recently released a book of poetry called Freedom Zone that is full of his work, as well as illustrations from his friends and family.  Some of the proceeds will  be going towards EBTS.

Buddy Bench

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Sam’s inspiration for outreach isn’t just limited to his family and his neighborhood.  He’s also working with his teachers and school administration to help get a Buddy Bench built at his Fox Chapel School District elementary school. A Buddy Bench is meant to help combat loneliness on school playgrounds. Basically, a kid who is feeling lonely or doesn’t have anyone to play with goes and sits on the bench. Other kids who know about the bench come over to connect with that kid and ensure nobody feels left out or alone.

Since Better the Burgh started about a year and a half ago, I have only done profiles of local nonprofits. All along I said that I’d also love to profile local individuals with lives that exemplify what it means to Better the Burgh.  Sam is our first, and I hope his commitment to take action with situations that are directly related to his life is an inspiration to you. He hasn’t allowed the idea of it being “somebody else’s problem” to creep into his thinking. May we all look to do likewise.