State Honoree, National Honoree
Hannah Karanick, 13, of Anaheim, California, an eighth-grader at Orangeview Junior High School, established a “closet” at her former elementary school that provides new clothing, laundry products, toiletries, quilts and school supplies to students there whose families can’t afford to buy such necessities. Her project was sparked by a boy at her school who never had a backpack and wore the same clothes every day. “He was funny and smart, but he was often teased for his hygiene and his clothes, and I saw his eyes fill up with tears many times,” said Hannah. When the boy and several other students ended up living with Hannah’s family as foster kids, “I watched their grades soar and their attitudes turn around,” she said.
Since her family couldn’t take every child in need into their home, Hannah had to find another way to help. After meeting with the principal of her old school and sending an opinion poll to its staff members, she decided to create a closet at the school where students could discreetly obtain basic necessities. She asked friends and family members to help her buy supplies, and then began obtaining items from the congregation of a local church. Nearly 50 children benefited from “Hannah’s Helpful Hands” closet in its first three months. “I am disappointed that I can’t help more kids at this point,” said Hannah, “but I am committed to expanding the program !”