Gretchen Gregor, 13, of Glen Allen, Va., a seventh-grader at Holman Middle School, conducted collection drives to provide new blankets to the homeless at Christmastime in Richmond, and to provide school supplies to a school in a low-income part of her community. “My motivation for both of these drives was my desire to help others,” said Gretchen. When her parents asked her in 2016 what she wanted for Christmas, she told them blankets for the homeless. She was motivated to do something to help people living on the streets of nearby Richmond. “I wanted them to feel like they mattered,” Gretchen said. “No one should be forgotten just because they can’t afford a home.”
After asking her family to donate, she set up bins where people could drop off blankets and publicized her cause through fliers and the local media. Her efforts yielded 450 brand-new blankets, which she and her mother delivered to a local shelter. Several months later, Gretchen began collecting school supplies after her math tutor moved to a school in a low-income area and told her that many of the students there couldn’t afford to buy supplies, so teachers had to use their own money. Once again, Gretchen promoted her drive through the media and collected “bins, boxes, and bags” of markers, glue sticks, notebooks and other items children need to start the school year. “It’s hard to succeed in school when you don’t have the necessary supplies,” said Gretchen.