12-year-old Makenna Breading-Goodrich is showing the world that you’re never too young to have social conscience. In a bid to help the homeless people in her community, she’s spent the past three winters collecting and giving away thousands of coats. She calls her initiative ‘Makenna’s Coats for a Cause’.
It all started three years ago, when Makenna watched a TV show about the hardships faced by the homeless during the cold winter months. Deeply disturbed by their plight, she soon came up with a simple solution – to go around her neighborhood, asking people to donate all the coats and jackets they could spare. All she had to do was find a way to spread the word, collect the coats, and get them to the less fortunate. Fortunately, her parents were very supportive and willing to help anyway they could.
“She said, ‘I think I can really do something to help,’” Makenna’s mother Jennifer recalled. “Any parent would look at their 9-year-old daughter with pride and tell her they’d be thrilled to help her in any way.”
So in October, 2013, Makenna designed fliers on her computer and asked her parents to print them out for her. She put up about 50 fliers around her hometown of Surprise, near Phoenix, and also went door-to-door, telling people she’d come back to collect any the coats they’d be willing to part with.
“At first, neighbors were surprised by her age and actions, but there was an outpouring of support,” Jennifer said. “Who doesn’t have a coat in their closet they’re willing to give up? It was a simple solution that allowed everyone to get involved without leaving their home.”
Two weeks after she started spreading the word, it was finally time to start collecting. Makenna set out with her little red Radio Flyer wagon around town, and ended up with about 200 coats that she later gave to the Phoenix Rescue Mission. And she’s continued the tradition every year since, collecting 500 coats in 2014 and a whopping 872 in 2015. This winter she received 300 other items of warm clothing as well, including hats, gloves, blankets, sweatshirts, and even undergarments.
Makenna doesn’t limit herself to helping the homeless only during the winter. Every spring, she holds a water drive through an organisation called St. Vincent De Paul. She also volunteers at a local nonprofit called The Clothing Shop that collects donated clothes. As a member of the youth city council, she helps other kids her age connect with the homeless in their community.
One of the girls in Makenna’s softball team was so inspired that she started her own little initiative, collecting bibles for the Phoenix Rescue Mission. And Makenna’s six-year-old brother plans to follow in her footsteps too – he wants to hold a backpack drive this year.
“Not only is she making a difference for the homeless herself, but she’s also showing all these young girls that they can put a positive footprint on the world too,” Jennifer said, proudly, adding that she and her husband Sheldon have always emphasized to their children the importance of giving. Well, looks like their efforts have paid off pretty well!