NEW PALESTINE — Bailey Young sat on the floor by the front door of her home with friends Hope Long and Rachel Popp hovering above her in a makeshift assembly line.
Surrounding the three Doe Creek Middle School eighth-graders were piles of fluffy, puffy and warm winter coats.
The young women stuffed gloves, hats and scarves inside zip-top plastic bags to keep the items protected from the elements, part of the process of getting the items ready for donation to local people in need.
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Along with several other New Palestine students, the girls took the stuffed packets and larger bags full of coats and winter boots and loaded them into their parents’ vehicles as part of Friends4Good, a philanthropic, student-led organization started four years ago by Young and other students from Sugar Creek Elementary School to coordinate monthly good deeds.
For the second year in a row, about 25 students gathered winter clothing from their community only to turn around and give the garments to those in need at the Hancock Hope House and the Wheeler Mission, Horizon House and Dayspring Center in Indianapolis.
Young likes being involved with a group with enough numbers to make a major impact on the community.
“We’re able to do the type of things that help more than one person at a time,” Young said.
The Friends4Good group passed out the goods to the homeless earlier this week, starting with a visit to Veterans Memorial Plaza in Indianapolis where they hung winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves on trees alongside signs letting passersby know they could take whatever they needed to stay warm this winter.
Sugar Creek Elementary School fifth-grader Christian Deckard felt good about being part of the group.
He liked being able to help people stay warm.
“Sometimes, people just … don’t have enough money to help themselves,” Deckard said.
Young and the other students tried to imagine what it would be like to not have a home, particularly in the wintertime, and felt driven to try and make a difference in people’s lives.
The students and parents helping them organize the day of giving were blown away by the amount of people who supported their cause dropping off coats, boots, hats and other winter wear.
The Young family’s garage was bursting with hundreds of bags full of warm winter items to give to the homeless.
Kelly Young, Bailey’s mom, loved the idea of instilling the importance of community service in young people.
“I think it’s an invaluable lesson these kids are learning,” she said.
She was also thrilled by the support members of the community gave the project. She said it was much more than they expected, which allowed them to help several shelters in Indianapolis and the one in their own county.