Heavenly Hats This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     One of the most frequently asked questions I get is why I started my program to provide headwear for cancer patients. I used to say it was because I had spent a lot of time in hospitals when my grandma had breast cancer and saw so many people without hair and, consequently, wanted to help in some small way. This is all true, but there is much more to it.

Imagine walking down the hallway of a cancer ward and seeing a gentleman in a wheelchair hooked up to all kinds of machines with no hair. You then look to your right and see a lady lying in bed in total discomfort with a towel wrapped around her head. Later you see a young boy, about your age, in the hospital game room trying to have fun playing video games but at the same time rubbing his bald head. These are the real inspirations behind the “Heavenly Hats” program that I started when I was 10 years old.

When I began “Heavenly Hats,” it was my goal to provide smiles and comfort to cancer patients at hospitals in my hometown of Green Bay, Wisconsin. It was so rewarding to bring in a box of brand-new hats to the hospitals and see the patients’ faces light up as they “shopped” their way through the hats, all of which were donated. They could not believe that they could pick out any hat they wanted at no charge. Seeing the impact of these hats in my community gave me the motivation to expand my program to other areas.

I started emailing and contacting hat companies all over the world asking for donations. I created a website, www.heavenlyhats.com, asking for donations of hats and with the help of the media, I was able to start sending hats to hospitals around the United States.

As of last September, I have sent more than 40,000 hats to more than 160 hospitals and clinics around the United States. I have also sent thousands more to individuals in need and have shipped hats to several other countries.

Currently, I speak to youth groups about the importance of getting involved in community service and describe how rewarding it can be. My main message, however, is to have a passion for what you are doing. Believing in your cause is contagious and that alone will convince others to help in ways you never dreamed of. When I first started this program I never believed that I would eventually make a difference in the lives of thousands of people, but through hard work, caring and determination anyone (no matter what their age) can affect the lives of people in need.

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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