Sometimes it’s the small things that can make the biggest impact. Take socks, for instance. They aren’t something you think much about unless the laundry piles up and your sock drawer is empty. But Caroline Sanders, 14, has thought a lot about socks. The high school student collects new socks for a NPH USA orphanage in Guatemala. After learning in school about NPH USA and its mission to transform the lives of vulnerable children in Latin America and the Caribbean with homes, healthcare and educational programs, Caroline wanted to help. When she learned how little these children had in the way of resources, she offered to start a sock drive. After hosting a successful Christmas party sock drive, Caroline wasn’t one and done. Instead of making it a one-time project, she made it a part of her lifestyle, encouraging other teens to get involved, working to get sponsors and orchestrating the successful delivery of the new socks to the orphanage. From socks, she added crayons and coloring books, and hopes to source toothbrushes for the kids this summer. For Caroline, giving simple things and small comforts matter.
Caroline is committed to making a difference in her community and she is today’s Daily Point of Light Award honoree. Points of Light spoke with her about her commitment to service.
What inspires you to volunteer?
It makes me feel good to do something for someone else. It makes me happy to see someone smile and have joy when things go better for them. We learn a lot about giving back at school so turning that into action is a positive thing.
Describe your volunteer role.
On this project, my role is to help collect new socks from whoever is willing to donate them. It is also my role to send communications to groups and individuals to see if they would be willing to donate. In addition, my role is to find individuals to help deliver the goods to the small village in Guatemala. The children at a local orphanage are the ones that receive the socks. I have also recently collected coloring books and crayons to be delivered on the next shipment. I have partnered with a teacher who is working at the orphanage to find a way to get the goods delivered. It is a small village and transportation of items requires some effort. My goal for summer collection is toothbrushes.
What’s been the most rewarding part of your work?
I have received a few photos of the kids at the orphanage. It makes me very happy to see the kids and know they are the ones benefitting. They do not have a lot of services and this small thing helps.
What have you learned through your experiences as a volunteer?
People tend to think you must do “something big” to make a difference. You don’t. You can find small meaningful ways to make an impact if you do them consistently over time. All these small things turn out to be big things if you do them with commitment.
Are there any future partnerships, programs, or events that you are excited about?
I have been donating my time periodically at a Senior Center for Bingo night and the center said I may be able to take on doing some additional projects such as ladies nail painting or trivia night. In addition, my school sponsors Special Olympics. We just hosted this and I got to be a buddy to a participant. I hope to get more involved with this project next year and take on a leadership role in planning.
Why do you think it’s important for others to give back?
You don’t just give something to others. You get back something that is not money or goods. You get back a positive feeling that you made a difference. I encourage others to do something be it small or large.
What do you want people to learn from your story?
I am just a regular teenager involved in daily school activities and tasks. You can make time to have an impact. Prioritize it and you will benefit more than those you help.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Caroline? Click here to find local volunteer opportunities.
Post Written by Beth D’Addono