Listening to Riley

CEO Blog, Youth Philanthropy

In mid-May, we met Riley Clark, a high school senior from the Lincoln School in Providence.  She had enrolled in a two-week, full time, GiftsToGive Social Entrepreneurial internship. Yesterday Riley completed her 10-day assignment. As part of her Service-Learning project, she submitted an essay about her experience.

We see thousands of student volunteers each year. All are interesting, some are extra-ordinary and some even inspire us. This young woman accomplished all three! Riley spent her fist week volunteering in key departments processing donations. She spent her second week fulfilling gift package requests from Social Workers for local children living in poverty. Riley fulfilled gift packages for fifty children, filled with clothes, books, toys and baby safety equipment. Rather than we tell the rest of her story, we want you to hear what she had to say.

“When choosing a place to help for my school’s senior community action projects (SCAPS), I wanted a place close to home. I live in Marion, MA, and travel 45 minutes to get to Lincoln School in Providence, RI. I love Lincoln, but I did not want to do that drive anymore, so I decided to look for non-profits around my area. I thought about where to volunteer and remembered when I was a Girl Scout, my troop helped at GiftsToGive a couple of times. I chose it and am glad I did.

Coming into my volunteering, I thought I would just put away clothes, clean toys, look through books, or help someone make gift packages. For my first couple of days, I helped out in the thrift store separating women’s and men’s clothing to make sure they were okay to be sold and that people would actually buy. I then helped out in the kid’s clothing section doing the same thing, but instead of it going to the thrift store, it goes to kids who are homeless or in poverty. Then I got to help with orders where I started doing them with a volunteer and then I did them on my own. Now I am fully making the packages on my own besides asking little questions along the way.

Going into my volunteering, I did not expect how I would feel. I feel joy making these packages because I know I am doing my best to make a child feel great and get clothes, books, and toys that they should get. I also did not expect to take as much time on each order because I am thinking of what would be best for the child I am creating a package for. I also didn’t expect to be impacted as internally as I have been. I feel so bad for all of these kids who are not as privileged as me or other people. They need these clothes and when I buy clothes, I don’t need them, I want them. Filling these packages has filled me with joy in helping kids more than I could possibly imagine. Sometimes toys, clothes, or books can make a difference in someone’s life and I hope that I am doing that. I wasn’t sure if I was going to volunteer as much after my required time here is done, but I will definitely be making time to help and make a difference.”

Our Founder and CEO Jim Stevens said, “Every once in a while, we stumble into a bright and shining light. A light full of altruism, empathy and tangible philanthropy. Riley inspired us to be better and to do more. This young women is for real, a great hope for her generation. What she has to say is worth listening to, hearing and understanding.”



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