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When the simplest gifts make the most profound difference

Friday, December 27, 2019

2019 National Honoree | Hannah Karanick of Anaheim, California

Disheveled, tattered clothes, worn-out shoes and no backpack. Some kids saw a target — someone to pick on. Hannah Karanick saw a boy who needed help.

Hannah told her parents about the boy in her school. They soon learned he and his mother were living out of their car. Her family offered to help and took the boy in for a year while his mother got back on her feet. While the boy lived with them, Hannah watched him become a new person.

Hannah had seen this type of transformation before. Her family has hosted 12 foster children. Each one became happier, more confident and improved their grades. She realized that with better living conditions, people seem to blossom.

“I have a strong memory of the gratitude they showed for necessities that I took for granted,” explained Hannah.

At Hannah’s elementary school, many students live below the poverty line and qualify for the government-assisted lunch program. She saw many students struggle with hygiene, dirty worn-out clothes and bullying. Hannah knew her family couldn’t take them all in, so she started developing a plan.

Simple gifts making a profound difference

Hannah met with her principal to discuss her ideas. They worked together, sending out an opinion poll to teachers for further input. The result: Hannah’s Helpful Hands, a closet that students in need can discreetly visit to obtain new clothing, laundry products, toiletries, quilts, gift cards for shoes and school supplies, free of charge.

A local church helps Hannah collect donations so she can restock the closet weekly. In just three months, 47 children were helped.

“One little girl chose a quilt that my grandmother had made, and she told the principal that she couldn’t wait to sleep with it that night so that she could be warm,” Hannah said.

Stories like that inspire Hannah to continue her work. And she has no plans of stopping. Even when she goes on to college, her younger brother plans to help keep Hannah’s Helpful Hands going.

“I have learned that giving others even simple things can change their situation for the better.”