Star Wallin created Project CARE (Compassion in Action creates a never-ending Ripple Effect of positive change), an organization dedicated to mobilizing resources to address Hattiesburg’s needs. It is a student organization with fluid membership that forms around specific needs as they arise. Hattiesburg Public Schools supports their efforts with meeting space, time off, T-shirt printing, and use of communications resources.
In October 2000, Star learned of the Son family who lost their grandmother, their home and all of their possessions in a tragic fire and of the two teens whose brave actions saved the father, little girl and family dog. Project CARE immediately began a clothing, food, toy, household item, and monetary drive for the fire victims. Due to the generous donations, the family was able to get back on their feet with their renewed confidence in their community. She then visited the modest home of the “heroes” to support their random acts of kindness and saw a need for action.
Project CARE organized a canned food and donation drive for the family of the teens and delivered Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to their door. It helped acquire a computer for the family and is currently working to secure new furnishings. In December, Star received notice that a young five year old had written a letter to Santa explaining her family’s deplorable situation and asking for a few gifts for her young cousin. Little Kimberley’s family became the sixth local family for whom Project CARE delivers toys, food and donations. In addition to these families, 12 other families in the community receive food baskets bi-annually because of Project CARE drives.
Project CARE holds the philosophy that all creatures deserve to experience compassion and respect. Star had worked closely with the Humane Society in the past and was aware of the large number of animals euthanized, due in large part to a lack of funds for the agency. Project CARE instituted a two-part strategy: 1) To raise awareness and funding – Project CARE organized and implemented the First “Pet in the Park Picnic” in August 2000. More than 30 volunteers and 100 area animal lovers participated, and more than $1,500 was raised for the work of the Humane Society! Project CARE then sought and received grant funding for the Humane Society ($5,500 total), and these funds are directed toward campaigns for community support, humane education, and pet overpopulation control. 2) Beginning in September 2000, it received, cared for, trained and found homes for 33 animals from the Forrest County Humane Society who would have otherwise been euthanized.
Project CARE is currently working on organizing and supplying over 25 high-school age “teachers” to deliver selected curricular modules to every third grade classroom in the district. The modules are “Our City,” a project of Junior Achievement, “Recycling 202” in partnership with the Keep Mississippi Beautiful Campaign, “Composting” employing students from Hattiesburg High School’s Environmental Club, and “Animal Awareness,” in partnership with the Humane Society.