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The 2 Kids With Love Story

2 Kids With Love was founded in 2015 by Ben Soave, Alessandro Toscani and Serena Toscani. The story of how the charity came into being is both fascinating and touching.

“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Those wise words, famously attributed to Sir Winston Churchill (though many argue it was not he who spoke them), were uttered long ago, but it was a child who recognized the power of the statement and how those words are a reflection of the heart behind 2 Kids With Love.

Alessandro and Serena are the co-founders of 2 Kids With Love and at the young ages of 13 and 11 respectively, they have an understanding of giving beyond their years. The passion and dedication of these children to helping others cannot be underestimated and this is just as much their story.

The roots of 2 Kids With Love, however, go back long before Alessandro and Serena even existed. It was back in late 1979 / early 1980, when Ben Soave was working in Indonesia, that he met two children in a refugee camp. Ben, who was a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) Foreign Service at that time, was interviewing Vietnamese refugees, who had fled their home country by paying thousands of dollars to float in an overcrowded boat until found, with the hope that this would lead to a better, safer future.

“It was late at night, the refugees had to board [the boat] quickly. There was a mad rush to get on and at the last minute, these two kids were thrown onto the boat,” recalls Ben. “They ended up in the refugee camp with no parents, nothing—they had to make do with what they had.”

Ben wanted to help, so in time, he managed to help these two children, around the ages of 10 and 12, to Canada, where they were adopted by a family in Quebec.

In 2012, Ben was asked by Alessandro’s mother if he would help Alessandro, 10 at the time, with a school project on Egypt because Ben had worked in the country years before. In the process of gathering information and artifacts to bring to Alessandro, Ben came across a photo of himself and the two children that he helped back in Indonesia. As the memories flooded back, he decided to show the photo and share the story of these two children with Alessandro and Serena, who were the same age at the time, as the two refugee children were over 30 years earlier. Ben wanted the children to understand how lucky they were to be living in Canada, with their loving family and enjoying the benefits that life has to offer Canadians.

Serena and Alessandro were entranced by the story and its impact was to resurface a short time later.


Ben traveled to Mexico fairly frequently and eventually became friends with Adriana, the administrator of the condominium complex where he stayed. Over the course of time, Adriana resigned as administrator and became a stay-at-home Mom looking after her two young children, but she and Ben continued to meet at the local Starbucks for coffee every now and then. After a few months Ben asked Adriana, “So what are you doing with your life?” Her simple answer was, “Looking after my children, taking them to school in the morning, coffee with my friends, the gym and then pick up the kids from school.” Three months later, the pair met again at the usual place and Adriana told Ben that his question had bothered her so much that she’d been thinking non-stop about it, so this time she had a different answer to his question: fulfill my life’s dream to help poor kids.

Thus, Adriana started a foundation called Fundacion Ahora es Tiempo De Dar — Now is Time to Give — to help children in very poor parts of Mexico. In a remote area, Lomas Del Valle outside of Puerto Vallarta, there sat a dilapidated school for children up to grade 8. Roads to the school were washed out. Rain water was collected in oil drums. Classes were intermittent because there was not a regular teacher. Despite the conditions, the kids were happy.

Ben, who visited the site with Adriana, found the situation heart breaking. Upon his return to Canada, he told Alessandro and Serena about his experience and showed them photos. They wanted to help.

The first thing Alessandro and Serena wanted to do was to communicate with the children in Mexico. Ben contacted Adriana who contacted Angelina, the lady who ran the village, to see if they could choose two children to be pen pals with Alessandro and Serena, preferably also brother and sister.

On Ben’s next trip to Mexico, he went to the school to meet the children, two 8 and 10 year old cousins, Aideth and Jose. He brought photos of Alessandro and Serena to introduce them, and in turn, had his photo taken with them holding the photos of Alessandro and Serena. That night Ben emailed Alessandro and Serena to let them know that he had met their pen pals. When Serena saw the photo of Ben with her and her brother’s pen pals, she screamed.

“Unbeknownst to me, the kids had found a website that Adriana had started for her Foundation. There was a group photo of the children from the school. Serena had pointed out a girl that she wanted to be friends with, while Alessandro chose a kid you couldn’t even see properly in the photo, but who he thought looked ‘cool,’” explains Ben.

It turns out the children they had been drawn to through the website photo were the two children coincidentally chosen by Angelina to be their pen pals.

Soon, Alessandro and Serena had the opportunity to travel to the Mexican village to meet their pen pals in person. They brought clothes and items to donate.

“The girls made a strong friendship immediately, despite language barriers,” says Ben. “For two and a half days, these little girls walked hand-in-hand everywhere. They were always together. Language was not needed.”

Ben became a courier for gifts between the children and helped to set up other pen-pal relationships.

In the meantime, Adriana’s foundation worked on constructing a new school.

She found architecture students who discovered a technique to build walls with bottles. Adriana and her volunteers collected empty bottles from resorts and the school children and volunteers spent hours filling the bottles with sand. Walls were built with the sand-filled bottles and the spaces were filled with plaster; eventually the bottles were completely hidden. The school currently has a completed bathroom and one classroom.

2 Kids With Love

With the exposure that Alessandro and Serena had from the story of the Vietnamese children, to their pen-pals, to their trip to Mexico and learning about the Foundation started by Adriana, the two youngsters were keen to do more, thus Ben and the children with their parents’ blessing founded and incorporated 2 Kids With Love.

“Because of who we are, our passion, our values and our care for those less fortunate, we incorporated 2 Kids with Love as a charity. We want to make a difference, empowering children through education in a healthy environment. It’s a priceless thing. It’s very personal—it’s all about the children and we want to keep it that way,” explains Ben.

Alessandro and Serena are co-founders and are active with the charity, not just in name, but in the running of the organization. 2 Kids With Love has a formal space thanks to the donation of an office for use. The charity runs a parallel junior board of directors made up of kids. For legal, financial, accountability and direction purposes, there is a 2 Kids With Love Board of Directors run by adults, but the children remain an integral part of the decision-making process.

“The kids hold their own board meetings supervised by an adult; they come in with their computers, they take notes. Serena has created a brochure and is working on a newsletter,” says Ben proudly. “They drive the projects. They go through the full board processes and have been learning about the selection criteria for board members and their roles. At first they thought they’d ask the A-students at school, but we talked about the types of traits people need to have and they learned what to look for and understood that isn’t something necessarily reflected in grades.”

Alessandro and Serena are also thinking about how to raise money for 2 Kids With Love. Serena has designed some special key chains to sell on behalf of the charity. “She has gone through every step of the process, from design to moulds,” says Ben, explaining that Serena consulted with a jeweller on her design idea and solicited multiple estimates for production costs. In addition, she proudly donated the first $5 to the charity, which she raised by providing American Girl doll makeovers.

Alessandro has been busy too. He has made a PowerPoint presentation to present to businesses for sponsorship, with an initial goal of raising $500 to go towards helping Adriana – Ahora Es Tiempo De Dar - to build the next classroom for the school in Mexico. He also created a poster featuring the following famous quote, which he found on his own and at such a young age, understood the significance behind the words: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

The children continue to give and are full of wonderful ideas. They are also selling decorative ceramic plates hand painted in Puerto Vallarta to raise money and Alessandro would like to hold a black-tie dinner for kids, featuring pizza, of course.

In addition to working towards the second classroom for the school in Mexico, 2 Kids With Love is aiming to help children at a school for the blind in Havana, Cuba.

Ben couldn’t be more proud. “The wonderful thing is that this has all been done on their own! These are phenomenal kids. We want to keep things on their level while teaching them to understand the processes involved in reaching a final objective – helping children in need. This started from a place of passion and a desire to help. Something beautiful grew out of it – 2 Kids With Love.”

About Ben Soave

When Ben Soave says the formation of 2 Kids With Love is personal, he means it from the heart. Throughout his career, Ben has seen many children in conditions that one would deem heart breaking. These conditions are reminiscent of Ben’s own early childhood in central Italy.

“I too came from a small village up in the mountains where we had no running water, no roads, no electricity, no doctor, no store and school only when a teacher walked a 4-5 kilometre winding narrow path up a very steep mountain to my village at 750 metres above sea level. To make things worse it had been devastated during the Second World War,” he reflects.

In 1957, when Ben was 10 years old, he immigrated to Canada with his parents. This was a life-changing experience from the conditions left behind.

I was given an opportunity worth its weight in golden sacrifices made by my Mother and Father. Thanks to them and the values, compassion, care, love and humility they instilled in me, I have been blessed to have travelled, lived and worked in SE Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America.
Seeing those Vietnamese children refugees in Indonesia, the children in Lomas Del Valle and children in shanty towns in Peru, as in so many other places in the world, all continue to bring back vivid memories of my poor but happy childhood.
When I see those children I relive my childhood, and so, with caring and amazing children like Serena and Alessandro, who I feel are the heart and soul of 2 Kids With Love, we want to make a difference even if only to the life of one child.
Serena’s $5.00 and first donation to 2 Kids With Love and Alessandro’s $500 fundraising objective come from the hearts of 2 amazing and caring kids with love that gives hope to a child in need somewhere in this beautiful world of ours. I am again blessed and fortunate to be part of the 2 Kids With Love story.

Proud supporters of 2 Kids With Love