Boca students host Hearts of Gold events for teens to give back
Some of the greeting cards were multicolored, others had glitter, but Samantha Port’s favorite was the cards with the turkeys in her hand.
âIt was cute and creative and really gave a Thanksgiving feel,â Port said. “It was more personal, because our messages were going to be sent to people in need.”
Port and his close friend Sasha Kaufman, both juniors at Pine Crest School in Boca Raton, recently hosted their second Hearts of Gold Day to benefit children, families and animals in need.
The two 17-year-olds kicked off the day of community service last March, and the success of the event led to the planning of the second Hearts of Gold Day in October. Each interactive station was also run by students who wanted to get involved by giving back to the community.
MORE people doing good deeds
The entire event was sponsored by the Touch a Heart Foundation, a nonprofit charity dedicated to enriching the lives of underprivileged children in South Florida. Hearts of Gold Day was organized and run by local students and provided a way for many teens to safely give back to their peers and the adults in their lives.
âTouch a Heart has helped many children and families in the community, but Hearts of Gold Day is special because it’s hosted by teens for teens,â said Jennifer Kaufman, CEO of Touch a Heart. âIt’s wonderful to see the younger generation embracing community service. “
Dozens of teenage volunteers have come together to help with projects that have benefited children and families in need in South Florida. Participants also created fun gifts for dogs residing at a local animal shelter.
âThe highlight was seeing teens from a lot of different schools being able to come together and work on the different stations that we had set up and just have fun,â Sasha said.
At various stations, students helped to: collect new socks for children and families in shelters; collect food for the homeless to deliver on Thanksgiving Day; make Thanksgiving cards to accompany food donations; create festive Halloween candy bags filled with candy; assemble makeup kits for teens living in local foster group homes; and make dog toys at Tri-County Animal Rescue.
It was a much more festive event than the first Hearts of Gold.
âOur first event was a success, so we decided to provide another opportunity for teens to support local families after a difficult year,â said Port. âWe have broadened our reach by adding new charitable projects, most of which relate to the upcoming holiday season. “
Hearts of Gold began when the two girls discussed hosting a day of community service where community members could have the opportunity to render service and give back to those in need.
âWe’ve been good friends for years and knew we would make a great team when planning an event like this,â said Port, who also lives in Boca Raton.
Once the initial idea and theme were defined, they asked for help.
âMy mother (Jennifer Kauffman) contacted agencies who wanted to take the products from these stations that we had envisioned,â Sasha said.
The two girls were “happily surprised” by the high turnout.
âChildren of all ages from elementary to high school attended the event and were able to participate in many service events,â said Port. “I was especially happy because it showed that so many people want to give back to our community.”
There was a station that made dog ropes / ropes that dogs could munch on or play with. These toys were made from old T-shirts so they were eco-friendly and some toys even had fun designs on them.
âThe overall mood was certainly heartwarming,â Port said. âEveryone had a great time and were able to have fun knowing they were doing good too. They were giving back to their community and those in need in a fun way. ”
Port and Kaufman plan to team up in the future to plan a third Hearts of Gold Day and create more opportunities for volunteers.
âI want to have more Hearts of Gold days throughout the year, maybe even two or three more,â Port said. âI hope we can recruit even more volunteers next year and maybe even expand our projects. ”
Touch a Heart Foundation is a nonprofit children’s charity that helps less fortunate children in South Florida. The organization’s mission is to enrich the lives of underprivileged children in the tri-county area of ââPalm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.
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