Lilyan Farris, 11, of Bridgeville, Delaware, a sixth-grader at Woodbridge Middle School, is the founder of “The Lily Project,” which seeks to spread kindness throughout her community by organizing a variety of projects that not only serve others, but also show other young people how much fun it is to volunteer. Lilyan has been volunteering since she was 4 years old. “I found out that it is a lot of fun to help others,” she said. “But it was hard for me to volunteer sometimes because people saw my age and didn’t think I could help. I always had to prove them wrong.”
She realized that “a lot of kids like me would be great helpers if someone showed them how.” So she started by involving other youngsters in a collection drive that gathered more than 1,500 books to create a children’s library at a treatment center for mothers who were battling addiction. Since that first project, she and her fellow volunteers have made thousands of coloring cards for service members, veterans, and first responders; filled Christmas stockings for people experiencing homelessness; created 300 kits of fun items for local school children; and designed an activity book about the COVID-19 pandemic that has been downloaded over 3,000 times. A big part of her work, Lilyan said, is finding creative ways to use what other people discard as trash. “There is a lot of trash in our landfills and a lot of trash could be reused,” she said. Lilyan estimated that she and her volunteers have repurposed more than 4,500 items that otherwise would be clogging landfills in her area.