Sunset Avenue fourth-grader Evan Gillespie has long awaited the day she turned 10 years old. Reaching the milestone meant the youngster would be able to continue a tradition started by her older sister four years ago.
Evan has watched her older sister, Olivia, collect food to be donated to the Backpack Buddies program, rather than receiving birthday presents. Olivia began collecting and donating the items when she was 10, and now that Evan has reached the same age, she decided to follow in her sister’s footsteps and collect pairs of gloves that were then given to all the fourth grade students at her school.
“Evan has been looking forward to her 10th birthday for a while,” Evan’s mother, Anna, said. “Evan’s older sister, Olivia, started collecting items for the Backpack Buddies program when she turned 10 years old. Evan wanted to start a project of her own for her 10th birthday.”
Evan celebrated her 10th birthday in November and instead of bringing presents, she asked her friends and family to give her gloves for her project, “Warm Hands, Warmer Hearts.”
“Evan collected gloves at her birthday party from her friends and she also had us post on social media and through email that she was collecting gloves for her birthday,” Anna explained. “Family members also gave gloves instead of regular gifts as well.”
Thursday morning, Evan, along with her sister, mother and father, Perry, delivered the gloves to each of the fourth grade classrooms at Sunset.
“Evan wanted to do something that would have a lasting effect after her birthday and thought that every student in the fourth grade deserved to have a new pair of gloves for the winter,” Anna said. “Since the weather has turned colder, Evan thought gloves would be the perfect item to collect.”
Through the generosity of her family and friends, Evan was able to collect 351 pairs of gloves, far surpassing her goal of 250 pairs. The collection number allowed Evan to distribute the gloves to every fourth grade student in the school, as well as have extra pairs on hand for any fifth grader who may be in need.
There are 261 fourth-grade students, leaving 90 extra pairs to be ready for any older students in need.
“I want to give back to the community because there are so many in need of things,” Evan said when asked why she wanted to start the project. “I have so many things that other people don’t, so I want to give something to help those in need.”
Evan said that she has received inspiration from her family, but most especially her older sister.
“My family has inspired me to give to others,” Evan added.
According to her mom, Evan enjoys working in the community with the Girls in Action group from Grove Park Baptist Church. She has participated in community service events such as making Thanksgiving meal bags for needy community members and Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes.
Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.