May 01, 2018 12:00AM
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No…it’s Super Kids! Our communities are filled with amazing children and teens striving to make a difference. Whether it’s giving funds to local charities, donating goods to those in need, or taking steps to help our environment, local kids are using their time and talents to support causes and projects that mean something to them. Their efforts to better the community are sure to inspire people of all ages. Let’s meet several of them.
Morgan Collier7, The Key School
For her sixth birthday, Collier decided to donate some of the toys she received as gifts to children in pediatric units at hospitals. For her seventh birthday, she and her party guests put together bagged lunches for the homeless population at the Lighthouse Shelter in Annapolis. Collier’s generosity and passion for helping others inspired her mother to start Morganizing for Change, a 501c3 nonprofit that inspires kids to be interested and engaged in philanthropy and community service through projects they create themselves. Recently, the Morganizing for Change Kids’ Board raised $425 to help two organizations in Puerto Rico that benefit children, pregnant women, and animals affected by Hurricane Maria. Collier believes that people of all ages can do something to help those in need.
Gemma Love10, West Annapolis Elementary School
The frigid temperatures of winter 2017 inspired 10-year-old Gemma Love to organize a cold-weather clothing drive. With the help of her family and friends, Love collected 30 coats and four hefty bags filled with hats, gloves, shirts, boots, and socks to donate to The Anne Arundel County Coalition to End Homelessness. Love’s next project was even bigger. With sponsorship from the Deborah and David Kane family, Love shipped two 60-pound and two 40-pound boxes of warm clothing to the Paschal Sherman Indian School in Omak, Washington, where her grandmother teaches. Love’s donation allowed fourth and fifth graders to participate in a school-sponsored sledding trip they otherwise would’ve missed out on.
In addition to her cold-weather clothing drives, Love raised over $900 on behalf of the Wellness House of Annapolis. These funds were used to help sponsor a summer camp for children whose parents, siblings, or relatives are suffering or have passed away from cancer. Most recently, Love rallied friends and neighbors to donate new toys to children receiving treatment at National Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. while simultaneously organizing a Band-Aid drive with her school principal, Alexis McKay, and her brother, Cameron.
Brooke Hodges13, Homeschooled
Brooke Hodges began volunteering when she was nine years old. While working with Giving Back Linda’s Legacy, Hodges devised her own idea to help the homeless community and started “Brooke’s Dental Drive for the Homeless.” The now-13-year-old has spent the last four years starting her organization, in between homeschooling in her hometown of Arnold, just outside of Annapolis. She collects items like toothbrushes, mouth wash, and dental floss, and puts them together in beautiful giftbags complete with a personal handmade card.
Hodges has collected over 9,000 dental items since she began this project. The majority of the bags go to the homeless community, but Hodges has recently started giving a portion of the bags to The Blue Ribbon project to help foster children and victims of child abuse. Her generosity has encouraged those around her to contribute to her project. Even a few local dental offices have been inspired each year to donate supplies to Brooke’s Dental Drive. Hodges plans on continuing her dental drive in coming years, and also wants to start volunteering at the SPCA of Anne Arundel County. She hopes to be an artist and veterinarian when she grows up.
Michaela West12, St. Joseph's Regional Catholic School
Michaela West of Beltsville, has been involved in volunteer work seemingly all her life. She grew up watching her mom volunteer at the Good Knight Child Empowerment Network, and eventually West started helping her mom with the Good Knight Summer Camp programs, which sparked her desire to help others.
When West was four years old she found an un-opened birthday gift she received six months prior. Her birthday falls two days before Christmas, so she has always received an excess of gifts. West began to feel guilty for getting so much when others have so little. She decided she wanted to do something special for those in need. Inspired by her own Christmas Eve traditions, West started making Christmas Eve boxes for children in homeless shelters. Each package contains a set of pajamas, popcorn, hot chocolate, a toothbrush and toothpaste, and a few small gifts for the child. She asks friends and family to donate items for the boxes in lieu of birthday gifts and she spends her birthday delivering the packages to local shelters.
In 2015, West started the Bundles of Love Club at her school. The club uses donated sleeping bags, blankets, warm clothing, toiletries, and non-perishable food to make care-bundles and delivers them to those in need. West believes that no one person can do everything, but by working together we can make a change and spread love and kindness.
Natasha Panduwala17, Easton High School
When Natasha Panduwawala was 15 years old, she and her family flew to her parents’ native country of Sri Lanka for a family wedding. While visiting, Panduwawala noticed that many of the sick and handicapped locals living in poverty were without the supplies and medical essentials they needed. Panduwawala was inspired to start Movement to Remember. She created a Facebook page for her project and collected orthopedic aid supplies like wheelchairs, canes, crutches, and walkers. With the help of the Easton community, she was able to collect over 200 items in the course of seven months. Panduwawala headed back to Sri Lanka in June of 2017 and spent the entire month distributing the items she collected to orphanages, hospitals, and those in need.
Panduwawala hopes to expand her project and continue helping the residents of Sri Lanka. Her
next goal is to host a 5K run to raise money for more orthopedic aids and to cover the cost of shipping the supplies. Panduwawala is passionate about helping others access the medical care they need and believes everyone should do their part to help communities in need, whether at home or abroad.
Will Sizemore16, Broadneck High School
When choosing an Eagle Scout project, Will Sizemore decided he wanted to do something environmental that could really make a difference. He decided to team-up with the Oyster Recovery Partnership, based in Annapolis and Cambridge, to help restore the oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. The project consisted of three phases, beginning in June 2017 and ending in September 2017. With the help of a group of scouts and volunteers, Sizemore collected mature oysters raised by waterfront homeowners on the Severn River and dropped them into and oyster reserve area. Phase two involved attaching lines and locking clips to hundreds of cages. The third and final stage of the project was to put fertilized oyster spat into the prepared cages. The cages were then given to volunteers to hang on their docks
until the following summer.
Sizemore chose this project because it benefits everyone that lives near, enjoys, or makes a living on the Chesapeake Bay. According to Sizemore, today’s oyster population represents only one percent of what it was 150 years ago. Oysters are essential to cleaning and restoring the waters of the Bay. Sizemore’s contribution will help people all over Maryland continue to enjoy all that
the Bay offers for years to come!