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Tessa Sobolewski, 8, a student at Golden Brook School in Windham, poses with some of the items she's collected for the residents of the Nashua Children's Home. (APRIL GUILMET/Union Leader Correspondent)

Windham girl a big backer of Nashua Children's Home

WINDHAM -- For 8-year-old Tessa Sobolewski, hardship was something she'd heard about on television but had never really witnessed firsthand.

Then, while watching the Disney Channel one day last year, the Golden Brook School student learned about another little girl who had collected shoes for children living in an orphanage.

Touched by the story, Sobolewski approached her mother and asked her if there were any orphanages located nearby. When she heard that there was a home for orphans and children from troubled families in nearby Nashua, the plucky third-grader knew she wanted to do something.

Sobolewski reached out to the members of her Brownie troop and officials from the Nashua Children's Home, which provides care and housing for boys and girls unable to remain with their families, special services for children who have struggled in public school settings, and supportive housing for young people who have "aged out" of public care.

After arranging a visit to the home, Tessa and her friends delivered a number of items they thought the children might need.

"We brought them hair accessories and gift cards," Sobolewski said. "We brought them boxes of Girl Scout cookies, too. That's when we learned that some of them probably wouldn't be getting Christmas presents."

Finding that unacceptable, Sobolewski promptly encouraged others in Windham Brownie Troop 11027 to join her in collecting toys and games to give to the home's residents at Christmas, Since then, she's been raising money to help the home; she's now in the process of organizing a summer yard sale to help the cause.

She's also received an updated "wish list" from the home, which currently is seeking out spring and summer-oriented items for the children in its care.

The only child of Todd and Mary Sobolewski, Tessa said her parents have always encouraged her to think of those less fortunate. In addition to providing encouragement, Mom lent a helping hand to her daughter's charitable endeavors, posting a message on Facebook asking friends to donate to Nashua Children's Home.

One of Mary Sobolewski's friends is Madeline Anderson-Balmer, marketing manager for Bellwether Community Credit Union, which runs a program recognizing community service in conjunction with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats minor-league baseball team.

Anderson-Balmer nominated Tessa for a Bellwether Community Champion award, and on April 19, Tessa received the award and got to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Fisher Cats hosted the Binghamton Mets at Northeast Delta Dental Stadium in Manchester.

She and her parents are hoping her relationship with the Nashua Children's Home will be an enduring one.

"Seeing children her own age there ... I think it really hit home," Mary Sobolewski said of Tessa's response to the home and its residents. "As a parent, it was eye-opening for me, too. You realize how lucky you really are."

The Sobolewski family encourages others to donate to the Nashua Children's Home in Tessa's honor. For more information, go to Nomination forms for a Bellwether Community Champion award can be found on the Fisher Cats' Facebook page, at and at

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