Mansfield ISD Magazine Winter 2018/2019 - Page 21

Volunteers for McKenzie’s Helping Hands gather and organize items to give to local homeless children. MISD STUDENT STARTS ORGANIZATION TO HELP HOMELESS KIDS A s she accompanied her mom to help out those who do not have a permanent place to live, McKenzie Charles noticed something—the homeless adults often had children who needed certain items as well. Shelter. Those who helped deliver the items said it was a very humbling experience. “When we walked into the center, I could tell that the manager on duty was very happy that we were there to deliver them,” explained Chaneera Francis, a kindergarten teacher at Martha Reid Leadership Academy. “But the children, our kids, were pretty much quiet and taking in everything and just having a moment of gratefulness that they were able to give back and have an impact on their community.” The sixth-grader at Mary Lillard Intermediate School started thinking about what she could do to solve the problem and came up with an idea. “I decided to start McKenzie’s Helping Hands to specifically target kids who are less fortunate and need their own items and hygienic products,” she said. She recruited a group of friends to help plan the execution of the idea and began raising money and products for her cause. After about a month of fundraising and soliciting donations, she and her friends spent a day gathering all the items and preparing them for distribution. Francis said the project was completely student-run, and it taught the students some valuable lessons. Charles (right) hopes her winter drive is just the beginning. “We made blessing bags, and we put soap, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, lotion and feminine products that they might need,” Charles added. “We also collected blankets because it’s getting colder outside, and the kids would have something of their own to keep them warm.” “They had real meetings with each other to go over logistics and ramp up their fundraising efforts,” Francis continued. “There were a lot of learning experiences along the way, and they were able to hone a lot of their social and business skills while helping others.” Charles said she likes giving back and eventually wants to make her organization global. The 11-year-old plans to host another drive to help local homeless children in the spring. She said she is already in talks with shelters to see what items will be needed. Altogether, 100 blessing bags, 75 blankets and several books were donated to Arlington Life 18 M A NSFIELD ISD.O RG