LOVES PARK (WREX) — Students come to the classroom needing supplies every year. That's why a young girl from Loves Park is using her charitable organization to help and to make the world a little brighter.
Kyra Thomas is donating about 100 backpacks filled with supplies to kids in need at two elementary schools in Loves Park this week.
"Because I like to see the smiles on their faces and I like to give stuff to people. It's just what I like to do," said 11-year-old and Project One Giant Step President Kyra Thomas when asked why she started this initiative.
Kyra's giving spirit stems from an encounter she had with a homeless man at just six years old.
"I saw this guy on the side of the street and he looked like he had no where to go," said Kyra. "I think I was eating a peanut butter and and jelly sandwich and I asked mom, 'can we give him one of ours,' and she said yeah."
Kyra's parents saw compassion in their daughter and took the selfless deed as a sign that people can do more good in the world. That's when Project One Giant Step was born, better known as P.O.G.S.
The organization does a variety of projects including making blessing bags for students and donating winter gear. But their latest goal is to help families who weren't able to purchase school supplies this year. On Tuesday, P.O.G.S. donated 10 backpacks to Rock Cut Elementary.
"Some families are dong fine and are able to provide everything and other families are working multiple jobs because of the pandemic, or whatever other circumstances they're not working so they hit some hard times and they had to make hard choices, and so that's where the generosity of others comes in handy," said Rock Cut Elementary School Principal Ryan Reinecke.
It wasn't just Kyra who noticed when other students didn't have those everyday items. It's been a steady outpour of support with community members showing up with donations.
"It means a lot to me because when people give it feels like they're dong the same thing I am dong," said Kyra. "That makes me feel happy because the world is doing that."
"I happen to believe that people are generous by nature and we are all connected," said Reinecke.
On Thursday, Kyra with the support of her parents dropped off about 60 backpacks with supplies to Windsor Elementary School. The principal says it has about 400 students and every year families find themselves in need.
"We definitely want to get it out quick because we want them to feel like they are ready at school and that they are like their classmates," said Windsor Elementary School Principal Melissa Yuska. "They have nice backpacks and materials and it really excites them for school as well."
Yuska says the school's social workers will contact families they believe would need assistance and ask them if they are comfortable with receiving these donations from P.O.G.S.
Kyra along with others who donate to her cause are spreading more happiness in the world and hoping others can do the same. P.O.G.S. will be doing more rounds of school donations right before Christmas and again before the end of the school year.
P.O.G.S. is already working on their next project and could use your help. Kyra and her team are collecting lunch boxes. You can email email@example.com or reach out through the organization's Facebook page for more information on how to donate to the cause or request other needs that are not being met.