Parma teen gives back
by Alisa Angelakis
Monday, November 17th, 2008
PARMA — Matthew Shriner, at 14, runs his own business.
He started selling EarMitts a year ago, and with a percentage of his profits, he gave almost $400 to the Salvation Army.
“One of my favorite things about my business is being able to give to charities,” he told the Idaho Press-Tribune.
Matthew and his younger sister, Amber, who also runs her own business, give a minimum of 10 percent of their profits to charity.
This year both Matthew and Amber chose to give to the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games.
Matthew hopes to be able to donate an amount several times greater than last year.
“I want to be able to make a contribution to people who are challenged in some way because I understand what it’s like and other people have helped me,” he said.
Matthew also is a volunteer with the Partner’s Club in Parma — a year-round, local arm of the Special Olympics.
Twelve-year-old Amber says she can relate a little to the athletes as well. She was born almost four months premature and is learning challenged.
Matthew and Amber live in Parma, a town through which the Special Olympics World Winter Games Torch will travel.
“This year, I chose to sponsor the 2009 Special Olympics World Games because the biggest games are going to be held here in Boise, and I really think what Eunice Kennedy Shriver has done for challenged individuals is awesome and should be supported,” Matthew said. “I’m also going to be volunteering for fundraising and at the events.”
Matthew and Amber recently gave their first contribution check of the season to the Special Olympics.
Teens play advocate for young entrepreneurs
Matthew and Amber’s grandmother, Cynthia Jones, says it’s important for kids to keep busy in positive ways.
“You don’t have to wait until you’re an adult to make a contribution to your community, financially or timewise,” she said.
Matthew says he would like more teens to be able to have their own businesses but it can be difficult because a person must be 18 years old to get a business license in Idaho.
Matthew works under his grandmother’s business license; she assists both children with their businesses.
“I really want to change the law in Idaho so kids can have a business at any age,” Matthew said. “In some states kids as young as 8 years old can get a business license. It doesn’t seem fair; some of my friends really want to have a business.”
Matthew said the best things about his business are being able to donate to charities and earning his own money.
“A lot of kids have to ask for allowance,” he said. “My grandma wants me to earn it.”
Matthew’s business: No more cold ears
Matthew didn’t like the idea of running his own business when his grandmother first mentioned it.
“She wanted me to have my own business because all I did was sit in the house and watch TV all day,” he said. “I didn’t want one, but I said if I had to then I was going to choose the business.”
And five minutes later he did.
Matthew said as his grandmother headed out the door to go to the store, she put on her EarMitts. EarMitts are bandless ear muffs that come in a variety of colors and patterns. Matthew says they’re thin, patented frame can easily be worn with caps, hats, helmets, goggles, glasses, hearing aids and iPods.
“I knew how much she liked hers,” he said. “And I knew how much I liked mine, so I said, ‘That’s what I’ll do.’ And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
Before EarMitts, Matthew said his ears were always cold.
“A stocking cap would only partially cover my ears,” he said.
Matthew said the bandless ear muffs are comfortable and stay on, even at high speeds, such as when riding an ATV.
Last year, most of Matthew’s sales were made on his Internet site, but this year he is setting up booths at various local businesses as well. He also has placed posters throughout the Treasure Valley.