On a trip to the neighborhood Hy-Vee, 12-year-old Cloe Brown saw a homeless man on a median, holding a sign and seeking aid.
His clothes were tattered and didn’t fit right, and he looked cold. She wanted to help him immediately.
When they arrived at the store, she convinced grandpa Tony Huetter to buy a blanket for the man, but by the time they returned to the corner, the man had disappeared.
“She was so disappointed when the guy was gone,” Huetter said.
Cloe turned that disappointment into action. She organized a drive to collect items for the homeless from people in the neighborhood surrounding Omaha Westside High School. She lives with her mom and sister in Glenwood, Iowa, and is a seventh-grader at East Mills High School, but she spends many weekends with her grandparents at their home near 84th and Pacific Streets.
Her first drive was a success: With help from grandma Deborah Huetter, she filled about seven large plastic bags with warm clothes, coats, hats, blankets, hand-warmers, nonperishable foods and water, and took them to the Lydia House at the Open Door Mission.
“Why stop there?” they thought. Cloe created 34 new flyers for her grandma to print, and then she started distributing them.
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That was in mid-October, and they’ve gotten several items so far. They plan to continue the clothing drive up to Thanksgiving Day. They will even pick up donations if you let them know and leave them on your driveway in bags. Originally, Cloe said, they asked people to bring stuff to the Huetter house, and they think that’s why they’ve gotten fewer donations this time around, though the pace has picked up.
Deborah Huetter has volunteered at the Open Door Mission, so Cloe had some knowledge of its programs to help the homeless, though she’s never been there herself. The teen’s other volunteer efforts include child-care duty at Lifegate Church on Saturday nights. She’s involved in several other extracurricular activities, including honor band, show choir, softball and dance.
She also loves to shop, especially at the Dollar Store, where she finds random gifts for friends.
Grandma is understandably proud of her granddaughter’s generosity.
“Cloe has a light in her, always,” Deborah Huetter said. “There’s just something about her that shines. She comes up with these things on her own.”
She’s piling up items at Grandma’s house for her latest drive. People who want to contribute can contact Cloe at email@example.com, or call Huetter at 712-520-3000.
They even came up with a name for the effort: The Attitude of Gratitude Program.
“We have one here no matter what happens,” Deborah Huetter said. “We’re so grateful for what we have. We always have what we need.”
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