Jenna Khayal, 13, of North Andover, Massachusetts, an eighth-grader at The Islamic Academy for Peace, raised money to sponsor three orphans in the Middle East and collected clothing donations that benefitted nearly a thousand people in Syria. As an officer of her student council, Jenna believes she should lead by example. “Student council motivated me to do my volunteer work,” Jenna said. “Not everybody gets to live in heated homes with clean water and plenty of food. There are so many people who are struggling to obtain the most basic needs that we forget to even acknowledge what we have as a great privilege.”
Wanting to sponsor a child in need in Syria, Jenna began raising money by soliciting donations from fellow students, conducting bake sales at her school, asking parents to contribute, and organizing a “jeans day” at school where, for a $2 donation, students could exchange their school uniforms for informal clothing. After she had raised enough to fulfill her original goal of sponsoring one child through a humanitarian relief organization, “I felt like it wasn’t enough,” she said. So she redoubled her efforts. So far, Jenna has been able to support two Syrian girls and a Yemeni boy. She also worked with the relief agency to collect clothing including jackets and shoes for people in war-ravaged Syria. She said she would like to sponsor even more children in the future and, as the current president of the student council, wants to explore more ways that she and her fellow students can help make the world a better place.