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State Honoree

Kendyl Collins

New Mexico

coordinates an annual winter clothing drive that has yielded more than 3,000 items for homeless children and adults in her area. In the third grade, Kendyl became acutely aware of the homeless situation in her neighborhood, after seeing people huddling under bridges and curling up on park benches, shivering in the cold winter air. “It was hard to imagine living that way,” said Kendyl. “These people deserved to at least have some warm clothes.” So, Kendyl put announcements in her school newspaper, spoke at assemblies, and placed collection boxes throughout her school. Once a week, from October through March, Kendyl collects the donated clothes, washes them, and sorts them by category. Her mother helps out by driving Kendyl to shelters in Albuquerque that distribute the clothes to the needy. Her program has received more attention and donations each year, and Kendyl has pledged to continue at least through her high school years. “I learned that when you do something that earns you nothing you can hold in your hands, but gives other people important things, you are giving yourself the greatest gift of all,” she said.