Yuji Smith’s mornings and afternoons are filled with Zoom classes as she finishes out the school year at The Center for Teaching and Learning in Edgecomb. The 12-year-old loves her cat, Gideon, and spends most of her time with her family.
Yuji has a history of taking an interest in causes. She is the youngest volunteer at Paw in the Door, a cat rehabilitation and rescue service in Bath. She spends one day a month there, helping socialize and care for the lost and abandoned animals.
When she turned 10, she requested birthday donations for an organization called OneSky. OneSky trains caregivers to provide love and support to orphaned children in the Asia Pacific region. Yuji herself was an orphan, adopted from China by Kimberly Smith and Hal Ostrom when she was less than a year old.
More recently, Yuji donated 200 face masks to the Maine Veterans’ Home in Augusta. Genetics testing and a DNA match had connected Yuji with relatives in China who were able to send her their allotment of masks.
Yuji and her parents researched several possible places to donate the personal protective equipment and settled on the veterans home in response to coronavirus outbreaks in similar facilities. She gave the masks in honor of her late maternal grandfather, Nelson George “Bud” Smith Jr., a World War II veteran.
Yuji wants to babysit this summer. She wants to be a math teacher when she grows up – she’s good at math. As she doodles with magnetic poetry on the refrigerator door, she puts together a thought that bears remembering: “In our world we stand together.”