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Celebrating the Season with Huge Hearts: Barron Prize Winners Brighten the Holidays for Those in Need

by | Dec 23, 2019 | Barron Prize Winner, Guest Post

So many of our Barron Prize young heroes help those in need during the holidays. I recently asked a number of them how they’re doing that this year and boy, did they reply! Some jotted a few sentences. Others crafted long paragraphs. All wrote about what it looks and feels like to live from the heart at this special time of year. I hope you find their work and words as inspiring as I do. Happy Holidays!
For the past 11 years, I’ve led kids and adults in decorating ornaments for trees that get donated to shelter homes or families in need. I also collect toys, books, and art supplies for kids in need, and lead people in making holiday cards to go with the donations.

All winter long, I’m hosting ‘The Big Blanket Hug.’ We make and collect no-sew blankets and assemble Blessing Bags filled with toiletries for people less fortunate. To date, we’ve donated more than 3,000 blankets and several thousand Blessing Bags to help people stay safe and warm, and give them a sense of dignity. Volunteering gives me more perspective and a greater sense of purpose. It makes me feel more connected to those around me, and it makes me feel good to do what I can to help others.

Founder – Catching Joy
Promoting youth volunteerism and acts of kindness

I’ve been busy making more than 50 rope toys as gifts for the primates at the National Zoo! I created a toy for every $50 donation made to The Fossey Fund – and donors raised over $2,600! This project has made me feel more connected to the gorilla world than ever. Knowing that the toys I’ve created are going directly to gorillas is unbelievable. It’s motivating me because I know for a fact that my work is making a difference. It also makes me feel so great that this project is helping both gorillas in the wild through donations, and gorillas in zoos. I cannot wait to see what the gorillas think about the toys!

Founder – Gorilla Heroes
Raising money and awareness to protect mountain gorillas

In 2012, as the holidays were approaching and after realizing that there were many food insecure children in my community, I began to worry about what the holidays might be like for those kids. I decided I wanted to do something to help and that was the start of our annual holiday mission. We’re now in the 8th year and are providing toys and gifts to 526 of the children we serve weekly! We’re able to do this because of my amazing team of volunteers and our caring and generous community.

Of all the projects we do, this one means the most to me and our Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz team. Knowing that the children will receive gifts for the holiday makes my heart smile! It makes me realize how fortunate and blessed I am to have such wonderful people willing to help me make a difference in the lives of the children we serve. Every child deserves a happy holiday!!

Founder – Kylee’s Kare Kits for Kidz
Fighting childhood hunger

Several years ago, I began collecting holiday donations for the oncology kids at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Each year I try to come up with new ideas. This year, I am making individual gift bags that will include necessities like chapstick, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and lotion, but will also include a fun card game, cozy socks, and a few gift cards. I love to do this each year as a way to remind kids who are in the hospital for the holidays that they are loved and remembered.

Founder – Ella’s Lemonade Shop
Supporting childhood cancer research

I’ll soon be traveling back to Ghana to do the ribbon cutting for my third bathroom facility and water pump there. I’ll also be taking school supplies and sports equipment to give the children. My work in Ghana make me realize that no matter what your age, you can make an impact.

Founder – Khloe Kares
To make the world a better place and inspire other kids to be great

I work year-round to make lunches and deliver them to people in my town who are experiencing homelessness. In 2017, I started helping children and their families at the holidays by doing a toy drive with Hildebrand Family Self-Help Center. It’s an organization in my town that supports families who are experiencing homelessness. I’m doing my toy drive again this season, placing boxes around town and asking for donations. Doing this reminds me that no matter what, we always have to be kind to people, all year round.

Founder – Liam’s Lunches of Love
Helping feed people who are homeless

Our annual Christmas dinner has always been an amazing event that both our volunteers and recipients enjoy. With support from local businesses, individuals, agencies, and government, we host 200 families and serve a full course meal that they can enjoy with family and friends. Santa makes a grand appearance on the red carpet, posing for pictures and handing out toys and gifts to children and their families. This year we will also be giving the families a week’s worth of groceries. It’s truly a magical event for a magical time of the year.

Founder – Joshua’s Heart Foundation
Dedicated to the fight against global hunger and poverty

We began the Buckets of Love Foundation in 2017 to bring joy to children in difficult situations. We have filled and gifted nearly 7,500 buckets across the country. Our work in 2019 has focused on filling buckets in our home state of Delaware. On the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, we invited community members to help us fill 341 buckets, which we donated to kids being served by homeless shelters and the foster care system. We had so many people come out to help us that we filled all those buckets in less than two hours!

Our Buckets of Love work reminds my sister Payton and me to be grateful for what we have and teaches us that anyone can make a difference. It is truly the season of giving and the perfect time to make someone’s day as we continue to ‘give back one bucket at a time.’

Founder – Buckets of Love
Delivering buckets filled with toys, games, and crafts to children facing difficult situations

This year, my siblings and I chose as our special holiday project to support the kids on the Pine Ridge and Yankton Sioux reservation. We crowdsourced hats, gloves, boots, and other necessities to help make their days brighter. We also worked closely with the kids’ schools to build Amazon wish lists so they could easily share their needs. In total, we sent more than 85 bags filled with gloves, socks, toiletries, coloring books, crayons, gifts, and snacks to kids on the reservation. We also sent over 100 hats!

Founder – Faces of the Endangered
Supports organizations that help endangered species by selling her art

This holiday season, I’m donating 700 Blessings Bags filled with toiletries and other essentials to homeless youth. My peers will create the Blessings Bags at a December event organized by Dreams for Kids, a group that trains and mentors youth as social entrepreneurs so they can tackle society’s critical social issues. I’m glad for this chance to remind youth that you don’t have to wait until you’re an adult to do great things and make a difference.

Founder – Project I Am
Helping those facing homelessness through the creating and distribution of Blessing Bags

We started helping others at the holidays back in 2010 by setting up a Christmas party in the field where we serve our homeless and hungry Friends each week. We dressed as Santa and Rudolph, brought Christmas dinner and wrapped presents, sang Christmas carols, passed out Santa hats and reindeer antlers, and everyone had the best time! We also brought a Christmas tree and ornaments so our Friends could decorate the tree. The children played with Santa and told him their wishes and so did the adults.

That first Christmas party for our Friends is one of our best memories and we’ve continued the tradition ever since. This year, we’ll be serving a hot meal, passing out hygiene and snack bags, blankets, sleeping bags, tents, hats, gloves, socks, and many other items our Friends really need for the cold and snowy winter. Of course, each one will get their own present to unwrap, too. We also bring Christmas cards and stamped envelopes they can fill out to send to their family and friends who are far away. Over the years we’ve been able to reunite some of our Friends with family! There is no greater reward than that for all of us.

Doing this reminds us what the true meaning of Christmas is. We realize all the things our Friends don’t have, and that many don’t have family members to share the holidays with. We let them know they are part of our family and we are there to help them in any way we can. Our parties make them feel loved and when they hug us and thank us with tears in their eyes, we feel loved, too.

Robby and Emma
Co-Founders – The Eimers Foundation
Helping the homeless and hungry in Detroit