Prairie Grove Teens Surprise 7Hills with Large Donation
With the school year behind them, four teens from Prairie Grove approached another kind of lesson – giving back.
New graduates of Prairie Grove High School Jackson Whitley and Anna VanZant, along with seniors Mallory Jenkins and Adam Clark, spent about $2,000 to purchase items needed for the 7hills Homeless Center. “I’ve been blessed financially, and I wanted to do something meaningful and not waste what I had,” Jackson said. “Anna is the one who told me about 7Hills.”
Anna used to work at the Sonic on Martin Luther King Boulevard near the 7hills day center. The day center gives homeless people a place to shower, get clothes, eat, use the phone and other services to get back on their feet. “A lot of times, people who used the day center would come after dark and stay on our patio, they’d order cheap things so they weren’t loitering,” Anna said. “So I have compassion for them from the time I worked there.”
The teens headed to Walmart after school one day and they each grabbed a cart. They split up assignments, with a few buying food, others buying clothes and toiletries.
“People were looking at us thinking, ‘There’s no way these kids need all this stuff,’” said Adam.
The cashier’s eyes got real wide when she saw all the carts stuffed with merchandise. “Is this all together?” she asked. “She was laughing the whole time,” Jackson said. After paying, the teens got a receipt nearly as tall as Jackson, who is about 6’ 4”.
Adam said he learned a lot from the experience. “When you give and you help people, it’s so rewarding for you, also. I can’t wait to do it again.”
“I had a wonderful time helping 7hills, and just seeing the people who needed our help,” said Jackson, who was previously unaware of 7Hills.
Lack of awareness is one thing these teenagers – and 7hills – want to change. “So many people don’t know there are homeless people in Fayetteville, in northwest Arkansas,” Anna said.
“We are very grateful to Jackson, Anna, Mallory and Adam. Not only did their donation stock our food pantry and allow us to give clothes to about the people here, but they are helping raise awareness and engaging with 7hills and the homeless as part of the community.”
And that’s a challenge from these teens to the rest of the community, too: “We challenge you to find some local people, and just give what you can,” said Mallory.