Words to live by: Kids make encouraging cards for people in need
BY NOUR HABIB World Scene Writer
Monday, November 12, 2012
11/12/12 at 9:38 AM
Read more information about Kenzie’s Cause.
Kenzie Chabino says she was a spoiled child.
"Everything I wanted, I'd get," said Kenzie, who is now a 14-year-old high school freshman at Union Public Schools.
So her mother decided to take her on a journey, Kenzie said, to show her what was really important in life, including family, friends, learning, working and giving to others.
Ultimately, it was the power of giving that most impacted Kenzie.
It drove her to make 100 cards and distribute them through Meals on Wheels - a nonprofit community service program that delivers meals to homebound individuals.
After distributing the cards, she couldn't forget about the people she gave them to.
"I knew that they were still out there, and that they were still lonely," Kenzie said. And it bothered her that so many people her age were self-centered, she said.
"It just weighed really heavy on my heart that there are people everywhere that are sad and people that just need to be thanked that don't get thank-yous or people that are lonely and don't get seen a lot or people that just need to get encouragement in general," she said.
So she decided to start Kenzie's Cause, a project seeking to get 1 million kids to make cards for people who need encouragement or who deserve to be thanked.
Last week, some participants in Kenzie's Cause handed out cards to patients at the Cancer Treatment Center of America.
Susan Sparks, who said she received bad news from a doctor earlier in the day, received a card that said, "Enjoy your day."
Sparks told Kenzie and her mom, Heather Chabino, that cancer patients need the encouragement.
"It gives us hope," she said.
Sparks said handmade gifts, like the card she received or the batch of cookies a neighbor recently made for her, are special because they take effort. The gifts signify that someone is thinking of you, she said.
Kenzie said part of the goal of her project is to show people that "gifts don't come off store shelves."
Recently, the Oklahoma PTA's Youth Involvement Committee partnered with Kenzie's Cause to bring the gift-of-giving concept into Oklahoma schools.
Gov. Mary Fallin agreed to proclaim Oct. 25 "Oklahoma Gift of Giving Day."
More than 220,000 blank cards were sent to 441 PTAs throughout Oklahoma for students to create encouraging messages for others.
One of the schools involved is Tulsa's Lee Elementary, where students made cards for firefighters, police officers and veterans.
"Anything that focuses children to be aware of and thankful of what other people in the community do is a wonderful project," said Lee Elementary Principal Cindy Taylor.
Developing a lifelong pattern of giving has to start early, Taylor said, stressing that this project is a way to show children that giving back to the community can be as simple as offering your time or talent.
Kenzie said that ultimately, the project is about changing people's lives.
"The people that receive (the cards) get encouragement, and they get the thought that someone out there cares," she said.
"Even if it's just for a minute that they get a little happier, that's what we try to do."
Original Print Headline: Words to live by
Nour Habib 918-581-8369
First lady of Tulsa Victoria Bartlett hugs Kenzie Chabino (right), 14, the founder of Kenzie's Cause, after making cards with Lee Elementary School second-graders for "Oklahoma Gift of Giving Day" last month. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Lee Elementary School second-grader Jozee Carter shows off her greeting card to other students at school. CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Several cards made by Lee Elementary School second-graders went to various entities during "Oklahoma Gift of Giving Day." CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World
Kenzie Chabino (right), 14, the founder of Kenzie's Cause, makes cards with Lee Elementary School second-grader Millie Crumb for "Oklahoma Gift of Giving Day." CORY YOUNG / Tulsa World