by Caroline Khalaf
Girls Invested in Volunteer Efforts
a program of Women’s Fund of Smith County
G.I.V.E. is an organization of high-school girls, created and supported by the Women’s Fund of Smith County. G.I.V.E. stands for “Girls Invested in Volunteer Efforts” and was created to bring awareness to community issues and the impact of philanthropy. As a G.I.V.E. participant of two years, I have been able to experience community, gratitude, and hard work. Every month, we meet to discuss fundraising for nonprofits in the community and the yearly G.I.V.E. grant that will go to an organization that helps women and children.
The method of fundraising is through “We Help Two”, a company that makes funky, themed socks for us to sell throughout the community. This year, we raised $3,600 through online sales, pop-up shops and sales to friends and family. The Women’s Fund matches our amount to raise the grant and to reward us for our hard work. As a result, we had $7,600 to grant this year. Also, for every pair of socks we sell, “We Help Two” gives us a pair to donate. We chose Church Under the Bridge and Gateway to Hope and were able to donate 180 pairs of socks.
To choose the recipient of the grant, we invited four intriguing non-profit organizations to present their needs. This year, we saw Champions for Children, Young Lives, Hope Haven of East Texas, and the East Texas Crisis Center. Each of these organizations has a special mission, reaching from the support of child brain development to the care of anyone who has been in an abusive situation. Though it was a heart-wrenching decision, we voted in March and chose Hope Haven.
Hope Haven is a “fun, protective, loving and nurturing group home where teenage girls in the foster care system understand that they are safe, precious, loved by God, have a voice, and can do great things with their lives.” Once these girls turn 18, they “age out” of the system and are pushed out into the world, some with no place to call home. Hope Haven is in the process of remodeling and furnishing a home for these girls who are still trying to find their way. Our grant money will support this home where three young women will be able to live while they attend college or enter the adult world.
G.I.V.E. has been fundraising and awarding grants since 2014 and has given over $37,000 to community organizations. Last year, my first year as a part of the G.I.V.E. program, we chose For the Silent as our grant recipient and gave them $8,500. The mission of For the Silent is: “through prevention, survivor care, and community transformation programs – we work to end sex trafficking and exploitation by empowering the voices of vulnerable and exploited youth.” We have also given to Refuge of Light, the Magdalene Home, Building Blocks and the Spirit of St. Louis Therapeutic Riding Center.
G.I.V.E. helps to foster kinder hearts and empathy. It has taught me to be compassionate, considerate, and humble. It has also shown me the importance of giving money wisely to people who need it the most. G.I.V.E. has become a special monthly ritual where I can meet new friends and learn new things about the people all around me while also helping my community. I am honored to be a part of this organization and look forward to continuing to be involved for the rest of my high school years.
If you are interested in learning more about The Women’s Fund of Smith County and the G.I.V.E. program, visit womensfundsc.org/give and follow the Women’s Fund on social media.
Caroline Khalaf is a 10th Grade student at All Saints Episcopal School.