Stack Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Academics

When Emma Beals '24 was 10, she dreamed off bottling smiles for sad kids. Her imagination, and heart, launched a non-profit.

smile in a jar product shot

Eight years ago, doctors found a tumor in her sister's brain. Emma's big sister, Lily, spent the next several months in and out of doctors' offices. That meant their parents were in and out of hospitals as well. Emma was a healthy 10 year old - but throughout her sister's crisis, she was often alone and scared. One day, she tagged along with the family to a doctor's appointment, and in the waiting room, she noticed there were other siblings who looked alone and scared too. Emma went home and drew a picture of a smile on a jar. She had an idea.

Emma wanted to give a smile to the brothers and sisters of sick children. Her own sister got better, and her own sadness faded - but she became all the more motivated to help others. Four years later, Smile in a Jar was officially born. 

Her little brother's 4th grade class gave a major assist in the successful launch of Emma's non-profit. In 2017, Emma was invited into her brother's class to pitch her idea. In fact, she spoke to every 4th grade class in the school. The elementary students went out and raised money, a lot of money. They donated over $4,000 to the fledgling foundation. Next, Emma had to turn the money into smiles.

Emma's uncle, a graphic designer, created the logo. Emma then packed 250 jars with yellow gumballs and attached a gift card to each. The jars were all donated to the Maria Fareri Children's Hospital in Valhalla, NY and distributed to unexpecting brothers and sisters of patients. 

Post pandemic, Emma says she'll be ready to do another fundraiser and another drop. She'd like to grow Smile in a Jar into a major organization benefiting thousands of kids. But no matter how many smiles she shares, she'll always remember the first one she got back. 

"I never wanted any recognition, but I did get a note from one of the children who received a jar. It said 'Thank you so much. You brought a smile to my face.' It was heartwarming. That's exactly what I wanted to do. It just made me so happy to know that I actually helped somebody."