Extending a Helping Hand One Care Bag at a Time

Daily Point of Light # 6452 Feb 11, 2019
Packaging Care Bags while recuperating from knee surgery./ Courtesy Carlie Hay

Not every teenager could turn personal adversity into opportunity. But that’s what Carlie Hay has done by founding Care Bags, Inc., a non-profit that delivers food and necessary personal supplies to those in need.  Carlie and her brother experienced a hard scrabble upbringing, raised by a single mom whose sense of sacrifice set the stage for her daughter’s accomplishments. 

Once the family’s home life stabilized, Carlie wanted to make a difference.  She started volunteering in eighth grade with community organizations like the MacDonell Children Services. Interested in doing more, Carlie formed Care Bags, which earmarks specific supplies to matching recipients, from collecting school supplies for at risk kids to food for the homeless.    

Carlie is committed to making a difference in her community and she is today’s Daily Point of Light Award honorees. Points of Light spoke with her about her commitment to service.

Care Bags provide necessities for various organizations on the Houma community./ Courtesy Carlie Hay

What inspires you to volunteer?

For most of my life I was raised by a single mom, who constantly sacrificed to give my brother and me the best life she could afford. I often saw my mother buy a hot meal for a homeless person and on the same night go without a meal herself. Following her lead, I have always wanted to help those who were less fortunate than us. Once I was in a position to do that, I looked for small ways that I could help.

Describe your volunteer role.

When I was in eighth grade, I was given the opportunity to design and sell t-shirts to help raise medical expenses for a young girl who had leukemia. I was able to present her with a check for more than $1,000! As a result of this experience, I knew I had to do more. I was already volunteering my time to feed the hungry through my church parish. As a result of my work with this organization and the MacDonell Children Services in Houma, I wanted a way to touch more lives in our small community. With encouragement from my mom, I decided to form a nonprofit organization called Care Bags, Inc. We put together bags that go to various organizations in the community: school supplies in September, cancer patients throughout the year, feeding the homeless at Thanksgiving, veterans, women’s shelter, etc.

What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?

​Seeing the smiles on peoples’ faces, especially children, really touches my heart as they show their appreciation with hugs and big thank yous. Knowing what it feels like to go without, I am happy to be able to help them, even if it’s only in a small way.

What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?

I’ve learned that no matter what your circumstances in life, everyone has the same basic needs: food, shelter, warm clothes and knowing that someone cares about them. It is vital to treat all people with love and respect—unbiased against appearances, circumstances, and backgrounds.

Delivering Care Bag school supplies to the students at Hope Community at the start of a new school year./Courtesy Carlie Hay

Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?

I will be heading off to college next September and am excited about my plans to continue my Care Bags service in my new city, wherever that might be. My mom plans to continue Care Bags here in Houma and would appreciate any help the community is willing to offer her. I am also enthusiastic to find out what opportunities will be available for me in my new home away from home.

Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?

If those who have the ability to help the less fortunate turn their backs, who else is going to aid those in their community? I try to live my life following rooted in Luke 12:48, “For whom much is given much is required.” I might not have infinite ability, but I have so much more than many people in the world. Through the goodness of others in my community who donate to my Care Bags, we have been able to touch the lives of the less fortunate in our community in a small way.

What do you want people to learn from your story?

I would especially like for children and teens to know that they are never too young to help others who are less fortunate. I was in elementary school when we would give sandwiches to people on the streets. If that’s all you can do, do it! If you can do more, do more. You’re never too young. And, if you know my mom and you live in Houma, offer to help her carry on what I am thankful to have started.  

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Carlie? Visit All for Good for local volunteer opportunities.

 

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