Most 17-year-olds celebrating their birthday expect to receive cards with good wishes, and perhaps a few bucks tucked inside. However, Isabella Weems, who likes to be referred to as “Bella,” celebrated her 17th birthday by donating money to charities that were close to her heart, including the Ahwatukee Children’s Theater (ACT).

According to ACT Operations Director Lori Olawski, Bella donated $1,717 to the local theater and announced her ongoing commitment to help young children achieve their goals by pledging an additional monthly donation of $617.96 over the next six months.

“We are so grateful for her contribution, and her generous donations will go towards reaching out to our community at-large and providing the children with educational and entertaining opportunities that they may not have had without generous donations.”

In fact, the donation was immediately put to good use, allowing the theater to purchase the rights for an upcoming production of “Annie.”

“The rights and licensing of many popular shows are costly, and (Bella) was able to ease our expenses for such a wonderful show,” said Olawski, pointing out that the senior community in Ahwatukee frequently attends and especially enjoys these kinds of productions. The donation also went towards a costly air-conditioning repair.

The theater thanked Bella by revealing a special box seat in her honor.

“Ms. Weems is a very talented young woman who has a natural attraction and love of the arts, including theater,” explained Olawski after being asked about the relationship between Bella and ACT.

During her last visit, Bella “performed a very touching and moving song that she composed, and it was very inspiring to our students,” Olawski added. “She was a natural with the kids.”

So who is Bella Weems? She is an extraordinary teenager who is the founder of Chandler-based Origami Owl, a social-selling custom jewelry business. The company’s philosophy is to make a difference in the lives of others, being a force for good, and an inspiration to women of all ages. Remaining true to this philosophy, Bella continues to give back to her community. Besides donating to local charities, she visits schools and gives inspirational speeches to young children about her creative vision for jewelry and her own entrepreneurial journey. To learn more about Origami Owl and Bella’s vision, visit

ACT is a nonprofit organization that offers family-friendly entertainment to the community at large, providing local children and adults education in, appreciation for, and opportunities to participate in all aspects of the performing arts. To find out about upcoming productions, visit or call (480) 705-9319.

• Jeremy Bush is a senior at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. He is interning this semester for the AFN.

(1) comment

origami owl lockets

WOW, good job donating to such a great cause at such a young age Bella! I've been an Origami Owl Independent designer February and absolutely love the product, the company, and how quickly it's growing. Keep giving generously and you will get back more in return.[beam]

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