Caeden deBruin: A kind on a mission


Caeden deBruin: A kind on a mission

Becky Walz
News Editor


It isn’t every day that a 7-year-old child gives up Christmas and birthday presents in order for his family to send money to help other children and families in Third-World countries to build huts, schools, care centers, and dig wells. 

But that is exactly what Caeden deBruin, son of Jen (Swenson) and Dylan deBruin of Urbandale, and Damon Swenson, son of Matt and Tyra Swenson of Vinton, have requested now for two years.

Next month Caeden will be experiencing the life of the children of Uganda, specifically a boy named Paul, whom Caeden sponsors for $34 per month. At age 7, he will be the youngest child to travel with the Hope Chest organization for a two-week visit.

In August 2012, 10-year-old Damon visited Uganda with his parents, aunt and uncle and discovered how different life is without electricity, electronics, running water, and living in huts.

“I was hesitant at first to see the grandchildren go to Uganda, but I can see the benefit they have received, as well as that of the children in Uganda,” noted Caeden’s grandparents Marsha and Rick Swenson of Clermont.

Over the years Caeden’s family has had the opportunity to support various children around the world through organizations such as Compassion International, World Vision, and Children’s Hunger Fund.

“We have always worked to have our kids be a part of the process and know what we are doing with God’s money,” said Caeden’s father, Dylan. “It’s been extremely fun and encouraging to watch how they respond.”

“It’s amazing what these children are willing to give up to help others,” added Marsha.

At age 5, Caeden became increasingly interested in being part of what his parents were doing. He began saving all of his money in a large Crayola piggy bank for his own trip to Uganda.

“He was pretty adamant about coming with us to meet his African friends,” said the proud father on his blog, “Ramblings of an Alien.”

Becoming an entrepreneur, Caeden decided that he would sell lemonade in front of the family’s Urbandale home to help finance his monthly sponsorship and save for the trip of a lifetime.

Saving the money

Jen, a 1999 Valley graduate, and Dylan sat down with Caeden in 2011 and told him that they would match every dollar of profit he made and explained the meaning of “profit.”

The youth had to pay for the lemonade and cups and paid his mom $1 to bake cookies for him to sell (deal of the century!)

Fifty percent of Caeden’s profit was earmarked for his monthly sponsorship and the remaining 50 percent went into his trip savings, so that he could tell customers he was selling lemonade for his friend, Paul, in Africa.

“Of course, I was figuring that he would make a few dollars, and it would be a lot of fun to add his hard work with a few more,” wrote Dylan in the blog.

Instead of the $2 to $5 the deBruins anticipated the youth would earn, Caeden collected $16 on day one, $26 the second, and $48 on the third day in the hot, humid weather.

That was just the tip of the iceberg for the now second-grader as he began painting 9½” x11” cavasses in February 2013 and selling them at prices offered by the customer. So far Caeden has sold a dozen paintings and has orders for many more via Jen’s Facebook page.

In addition to his many paintings, Caeden learned how to make paracord bracelets and has been selling them in Urbandale and the Elgin Café to continue to raise money for the $1800 trip in August.

“He is a kid on a mission,” said Jen proudly. “Every week I am going out to buy more paint and cavasses.”

Hope Chest organization

Dylan and Jen have made numerous trips with the Hope Chest organization to Uganda, specifically the villages of Ogoloi and Bukedea, and have met Paul.

“On our first trip to Uganda, Caeden made a card for Paul and sent it with us. It had a picture of America and Africa on it with an airplane flying over the ocean. He also told him that one day he would be coming over for a visit,” said Jen.

In the past the group raised money for new huts at a cost of $75 each and a well to eliminate the villagers’ need to walk two hours, one way to collect fresh drinking water.

“Caeden has shown us the difference between what we have and what we need by giving up so much,” concluded Marsha. “It’s pretty amazing to see his determination to go over to Uganda and help.” 

To learn more about the trip or follow the groups happenings in August while in Uganda log on to

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