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Kids Make a Difference
By Gretchen Scott

Brittany Clifford started Fuzzy Feet to warm feet and raise the spirits of young hospital patients. (Photo courtesy:
Brittany Clifford started Fuzzy Feet to warm feet and raise the spirits of young hospital patients. (Photo courtesy:
When Anthony Leanna visited his sick grandmother in the hospital four years ago, he came up with an idea that would change his life—and the lives of others. Anthony, a 13-year-old from Wisconsin, noticed that a lot of cancer patients in the hospital had lost their hair from chemotherapy treatment. He thought their heads must be cold. "Why don't they have hats to wear?" he asked his parents.

The question kept nagging at him, but instead of just thinking about it Anthony decided to do something. He started an organization called Heavenly Hats that collects hats from individuals and companies and gives them to cancer patients. In the past three years Anthony has delivered hats to 35,000 people in the U.S. and other countries. He hopes the success of his program encourages other kids to volunteer.

"Never let anyone discourage you from making a difference," he says. "Just find something that you are passionate about and go for it!"

Lots of kids across the country have turned ideas like Anthony's into their own organizations. Brittany Clifford, 14, of Arizona was visiting her friend Michael in the hospital and noticed his feet were cold. She decided to get him some slippers. Then she realized that silly slippers might comfort other sick kids.

Brittany started Fuzzy Feet, an organization that gives slippers to kids in the hospital. Gathering and delivering donations takes up a lot of Brittany's free time, but she says the hard work pays off when she sees the kids smile. "I think it's way more exciting to be out there doing something other than sitting at home watching TV," she says.

Siblings Rob and Brittany Bergquist of Massachusetts also took action to help those in need. When they heard a story about an American soldier in Iraq who ran up a huge phone bill calling home, they decided to help him pay the bill. Rob and Brittany raised money with yard sales, car washes, and donated cell phones, which they recycled for money.

Their group, Cell Phones for Soldiers, has already given more than $150,000 worth of phone cards to soldiers stationed in the Middle East. Rob, 12, believes the energy that comes with being young helped him make a difference.

"Kids have great ideas and solutions that adults don't think of," he says. "Kids have time to work on projects, and kids don't get tired."

Volunteering can also give kids a chance to share their passions with others. Elizabeth Singleton, 12, of Kentucky loves to read and learn new vocabulary. She was upset when she heard that 70 percent of the children in her county didn't have a dictionary at home. Elizabeth decided that everyone should be able to look up difficult words while they were reading, so she started a program to give every third grader in her county a hardcover dictionary. She raised enough money through yard sales and lemonade stands to buy and donate 235 dictionaries.

Elizabeth's project started as a small idea, but with hard work it became something much bigger. "Even a spark can turn into a flame if you blow on it," she says.

Want to make a difference? Visit these Web sites to see about volunteer opportunities in your community:

Red Cross Youth Services:,1082,0_326_,00.html

Volunteer Match:

Youth Volunteer Corps:

Youth Service America: