Jason O’Neill was just 9 years old when he had an idea – one that he could sell at craft fairs and that would make homework a little more fun! That was the beginning of Pencil Bugs: colorful, handmade pencil toppers. With the help of his parents, he bought the supplies and made the first Pencil Bug. They caught on very quickly and, before long, he was busy taking orders and making new ones on a regular basis.
Since he started his business in 2005, Jason has been donating a portion of his proceeds to help other kids. In 2008, he heard about Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. Jason’s been lucky and has never been hospitalized, so he can only imagine what it must be like, especially for a kid. That’s why he decided to start a program with Rady Children’s to help the kids in the Hospital. He takes some of the proceeds from his Pencil Bugs business and buys toys, games, books, stuffed animals, crafts and of course, some of his Pencil Bugs products.
Each time Jason delivers his donation to Rady Children’s, he tries to do something different. “Every time, it's a whole new fun experience. I never realized how much fun it could be to go shopping for toys and things for other kids,” says Jason. This past December, with the support and generosity of people from all over the world, Jason raised $5,130, which he used to purchase 1,800 teddy bears for the patients at Rady Children’s.
Jason is 15 now and in 9th grade. He’s given many interviews for TV, radio, newspaper and Internet blogs and has been featured in several magazines. He’s even had his story included in three books by best-selling authors. He never imagined that his simple idea would turn into a real business, but it's never too early to be an entrepreneur. Jason says, “If you have an idea to make something, at least give it a try. You might be surprised at what you can do!”