Karma for Cara Foundation awards microgrants to youths 18 years of age and younger who spearhead exceptional service projects in their communities. Kade (14) from Maryland used her award to create and distribute Kids Care Boxes to children at a local family shelter where she works after noticing that incoming children were often scared when they arrived. Kade worked with the shelter to survey incoming families to figure out what specific items were needed most and what types of items would help make them feel more welcomed. Kade decided to gather items, box/bag them, and even created little booklets with general information about the shelter and other important information.
- How many volunteers participated in your project? How many hours did it involve? 9 adults, 24 kids, and me – 34 total to order, collect donations, design a logo, create backpacks, talk with the residential advisors and social works at the shelter, pack bags, share the project with second graders, and distribute the bags. It involved approximately 100 hours.
- What did you learn from this experience? I learned to be very flexible and patient because the items I wanted to include did not always arrive as expected. For example, the bags I ordered with a design came late due to weather, and they were stained and in the wrong colors. I had to ask to have them redone and that took time. Also, I learned that when I ask others to help with things–such as collections or art work–I need to be very specific and follow up often. When I shared my project with other kids and taught them about homelessness, I learned that kids have very big hearts and they want to help in any way they can. I also learned that sometimes kids have perspectives about the homeless that aren’t always correct, but once they learned more about the homeless, they changed their perspectives. For example, many kids were surprised to hear that a lot of homeless people work, but they still can’t afford homes and food for their families.
- How will your project continue having an impact in the future? My project will have an impact in the future because children who arrive at the shelter in the future will be receiving bags full of toys, books, clothing, journals, and more. When they arrive, they will be receiving a bag of gifts just for them, and I am told that it makes them feel more at home and happy. Also, the second graders who learned about my project are designing their own project for the kids at the shelter, so this will impact both the second graders – as they will learn a lot and receive joy from helping others – and the children and staff at the shelter. Hopefully, they will be inspired to continue helping others.
- Overall, summarize how your project was completed and how you think it went. I think overall my project was completed well, although it took more time than I anticipated because of a few weather and production bumps along the way! I think it went very well. I had fun doing it, the adults and kids who helped enjoyed helping and were very generous with their time. The bags make everyone smile and that’s what counts.
- How was the Karma for Cara microgrant helpful in the completion of your project? The Karma for Cara microgrant was extremely helpful in the completion of my project. The funds helped me to purchase quality items for different age groups of children and in lieu of paper bags or boxes, I was able to order really bright, fun, backpacks (sling backs) that kids can use and reuse. Without the grant, it would have been difficult to make the bags and to purchase high quality materials. The grant itself is inspiring because it is in honor of a young girl who was kind, compassionate and thought of others.