Warm Hands, Warm Hearts This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

March 15, 2010
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Until very recently, I was one of those people who thought that I couldn't make a difference in the world. After all, how could one girl from the very small town of Carey, Ohio, positively affect the lives of people in need? But I reconsidered this when my creative writing class decided to create a volunteer project. With the work of five pairs of hands (my teacher and four students), we started our own charity and begin saving the world, even if it meant starting very small.

Volunteering in my community was something I'd always wanted to do, so I already had some ideas. In class, we made a list of projects we might do, including serving food at a soup kitchen, donating winter coats, or raising money, but we wanted to do something few people have tried. We knew it had to be creative.

We finally decided to collect all sorts of winter accessories, and we would involved our school. The more students participating, the more we would collect. The seniors were in charge of donating scarves, juniors brought in hats, sophomores gave gloves, freshman donated socks, eighth grade was in charge of hot cocoa, and seventh grade contributed bags of marshmallows. The teachers and staff could donate their loose change to our money jar.

The grade that collected the most would be treated to a movie in the library for three class periods, with the luxury of eating popcorn and chatting with friends. So we had our creatively inspired volunteer project, and we called it Warm Hands Warm Hearts.

We hung posters around school advertising our idea, including score-keeping posters showing each grade's progress. Within the first week, we had collected an enormous amount of marshmallows but only a few pieces of clothing. The tallies consistently showed the seventh graders leading. As the project progressed, the number of winter accessories slowly grew, but the marshmallow count continued to outnumber the rest.

The day our project ended, to our surprise, we received three bags full of scarves, hats, gloves, and socks – all donated by a few seniors! It was just enough to eclipse the marshmallow total and win the contest. So on the final day before Thanksgiving break, the senior class spent periods seven through nine watching “Elf” in the library. The scent of buttery popcorn and envy permeated the air.

Our creative writing class filled over 30 gift bags with winter clothing, hot cocoa, and marshmallows. After signing Christmas cards with our names and love, we sent the items to a church to be distributed to those in need.

As our volunteer experience ended, I carried the joy of making the winter warmer for so many. Sometimes I think about all the people we didn't get to help, but then I remember, there are 30 fewer people who won't be shivering when they go outside, 30 fewer who won't have to stay inside to keep warm this winter.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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