For 13-year-old Bedford resident Chase Hughes, charitable work is part of his lifestyle.
By SAMANTHA ARROYO, Bedford Journal
Following the motto, “Search inward, look upward, reach outward,” the Hughes family of five has contributed thousands of school materials and hygiene kits to countries all across the world.
Last year, Chase directed a project that collected, packaged and distributed more than 2,000 hygiene kits for earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile.
And on Feb. 8, Chase was recognized for his efforts with a Prudential Spirit of Community Award, honoring young people for outstanding acts of volunteerism. He was one of two chosen from the state as top honorees.
“We made kits like toothbrushes and toothpaste and combs and soap to all send down to Haiti and Chile last year,” Chase Hughes said. “So people can have some supplies since their houses were wrecked.”
According to the seventh-grader, his goal was to collect and distribute 500 hygiene kits. But after an enormous response from the community, he was able to package more than 2,000.
“We just want to help others who don’t have as much as we do,” Chase said. “It’s important to help out.”
Though they did not fall victim to an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane, Angela Hughes and her three children have been at the forefront of first response emergency care.
Nearly 10 years ago, the family founded “Color My World: Kids Who Care,” in response to a scarce supply of educational materials in Africa. Soon thereafter, they began assisting relief efforts by providing hygiene kits.
“The kids basically run it,” said Angela Hughes. “They each have different projects that they work on and we give them some direction on how to do it and everything, but we expect them to pack everything.”
In February, when the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a nationwide program, announced the top 102 youth volunteers for 2011, Chase had made the cut.
“I was just amazed at how we won the service project award and I was just, like, amazed,” Chase Hughes said.
As a state honoree, he will receive $1,000, an engraved silver medallion and an all-expense-paid trip on April 30 to Washington, D.C., where he will join the other honorees for several days of national recognition events. Ten of the 102 will be named America’s top youth volunteers for 2011 at that time.
“These award recipients have proven that young people across America are critical to the future of our neighborhoods, our nation, and our world,” said John Strangfeld, chairman and CEO of Prudential Financial. “Each and every one of these honorees deserves our respect and admiration, and we hope by shining a light on them, they will continue to serve as an example for others.”
The seventh-grader was nominated by the YMCA of Greater Manchester, the project’s greatest contributor. Due to bins set up at local organizations such as the YMCA, Chase was able to collect $17,000 in supplies.
According to Angela Hughes, a complete hygiene kit supplies enough products for a family of four. Therefore, the 2,000 hygiene kits were able to service 8,000 individuals. Each hygiene kit includes two unbreakable combs, four toothbrushes, one tube of toothpaste, two bars of soap and two hand towels.
“Hygiene kits have become very popular,” she said. “People felt really confident donating in these terms.”
In 2006, Hillary Hughes, 16, was recognized as a state honoree and went on to claim national recognition along with 10 other state honorees. These honorees received an additional $5,000 award, gold medallions, crystal trophies, and a $5,000 grant from The Prudential Foundation for nonprofit, charitable organizations of their choice.
“The Haiti (earthquake) ended up being such a huge disaster, but we were able to take that money from six years ago and apply it to make this project happen,” Angela Hughes said. “So the tsunami project helped the Haiti project.”
Angela Hughes hopes for similar results this time around so they can continue their humanitarian efforts.
“I am always really shocked when our foundation is recognized and blessed because it just continues on what we are doing,” she said. “There are over 22,000 kids that apply for this program (Spirit of Community). So I am just always shocked because the 22,000 kids that apply for this are all doing amazing things.”
According to the executive director of one of the organizations recognizing these students, their level of compassion goes above and beyond.
“The young people recognized by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards demonstrate an enormous capacity for giving and reaching out to those in need,” said Gerald Tirozzi, executive director of the National Association of Secondary School Principals. “NASSP is proud to honor these student leaders because they are wonderful examples of the high caliber of young people in our nation’s schools today.”
All volunteer efforts at the Hughes house take place after home-school hours and the family is always enlisting neighborhood kids to package items that seem to seep out of their garage doors.
“We have a garage full of stuff just piled to the ceiling so we would have these kit-put-together parties,” Angela Hughes said with a laugh.
Though it was a bit of a challenge to complete the project during the allotted four-week period, due to the nature of the product, the family is overwhelmed by its success.
Simply put: “It felt good,” Chase said.
Chase said he intends to save the $1,000 for school and to participate in the Boy Scouts providing local charitable services. Though he does not know what to expect during his trip to Washington, D.C. the 13-year-old says he is “pretty excited.”
For information on Prudential Spirit of Community State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists, visit spirit.prudential.com or www.nassp.org/spirit.
Charitable work part of Hughes family life
BY IRENE LABOMBARDE
“Search Inward, Look Upward, Reach Outward” is the message inscribed on the brick the Hughes family donated to the newly rebuilt Ann DeNicola Memorial Playground. It is also the philosophy behind the Color My World charity Angela and Brian Hughes founded, along with their children, almost 10 years ago.
“Brian and I just wanted the kids to get involved in service, and this is a way for the whole family to give back,” said Angela Hughes.
Color My World’s first outreach program provides school kits for Third World countries.
“We waste so many things here, and there is such need elsewhere. Even young kids could identify with pencils, crayons, glue. They hear about people who erase homework to reuse the paper, and this takes it to a higher level. Our whole vision was to get kids to do something that matters,” she said.
Her 10-year-old son, Chase, said he loves helping with the school kits.
“We’ve been delivering things to help people who are suffering and can’t afford school supplies. It makes me feel very happy to help them have a better life,” he said.
As the kits have grown in popularity, Color My World has received help from school and Scout groups who collect materials. The kits are stored in a warehouse in Boston, ready to be flown as soon as they are needed. Assembled kits are kept on hand, as well as money to purchase additional supplies.
Approximately $18,000 in school supplies have been donated the past two years.
“We’re not looking at the dollar value, we just want to get the help out there. But having people make even a minimum donation really adds up,” said Hughes.
In addition to school kits, the organization also provides hygiene kits to disaster areas. Hughes said they are considering assisting victims of the recent floods in London, England.
On a more local note, Hughes said Color My World hosted benefit dinners and silent auctions in 2006, raising more than $12,000 for the John Hills family, whose house burned down, and about $13,000 for cancer patient Jacob Schaffner of Goffstown.
Hughes said her biggest regret is that they were on vacation in May 2006 when the Goffstown floods hit.
“We were helping Indonesian earthquake victims at the time, and got a lot of negative feedback. We were looking so globally, we missed what was happening locally. So we pulled out of Indonesia and helped our own neighbors,” said Hughes. That year’s school kits were donated to the Boys and Girls Club of Salem rather than Africa.
She said they hope to stay on the international scene by providing relief kits, but also want to do things that would help Bedford. They have begun a radon awareness campaign, and she said they would like to donate to the libraries at the new schools.
“There is so much need, even in Bedford. It’s hard to decide. We do whatever tugs on our heartstrings, whatever we can do. We’re small, we’re not the Red Cross, so we look at the resources and decide what we can do,” she said.
In July, Color My World donated the plants and labor to help landscape at the playground.
“I had fun putting in the plants,” said Noah Hughes, 7.
Hillary Hughes, 13, was one of 10 youths across the nation honored with a Prudential Spirit of Community Award in 2006. Recognition for her volunteer efforts has been highlighted in magazines, such as Disney Adventure All-Stars and American Girl Magazine. Although she said she doesn’t seek the limelight, she doesn’t mind raising awareness of what Color My World is trying to achieve.
Last November, Hillary attended the New Hampshire Board of Youth Volunteers conference on youth volunteerism at the Wayfarer Inn in Bedford.
“It was a lot of fun. There were about 200 kids there, legislators and senators. For a service project, we collected about 185 school kits to give the Boys and Girls Club,” Hillary said.
In the future, Hughes hopes to establish a youth board for Color My World.
“Our goal is to educate and empower youth to get involved. We have kept the organization tight with our family, and now we hope to have the resources to branch out and bring people in,” she said.
For more information on their projects, awards, media coverage, and how you can get involved, visit www.Colormyworldkids.org. Published Wednesday, August 15, 2007 2:34 PM by Bedford Editor
Color My World teamed up with The NH Board of Youth Volunteers (Which Hillary and Chase served on) and The StarMight Foundation, for The 25th Annual Governor’s Conference on Volunteerism and Volunteer NH to bring the 2nd Annual NH Youth Conference On Volunteerism to middle and high school students Across The State! Hundreds of hygiene kits and school supplies were created donated to Color My World to be shipped around the world.
Hillary and Chase with Gov. Lynch, NH.
In 2005, the StarMight Foundation, A 501c-3 NH Non-profit Organization,”Empowering Young People To Find Their Passions And Use Them To Make The World A Better Place,” began an initiative called the New Hampshire Board of Youth Volunteers.
For two years, 16 middle and high school students, representing 12 different NH schools, collaborated monthly to plan and implement the very first conference about volunteerism in NH designed BY youth FOR youth.
Their work continues today…..
“Together We’re Creating A Whole New Paradigm!”
The NH Board of Youth Volunteers (NHBYV) serves as a network of young volunteers from around the state of NH that exemplify the power of youth. This Board of Youth Volunteers has been designed to bring youth volunteers, between grades 7-12, together throughout the year to plan, organize, execute and promote the very first NH Youth Conference on Volunteerism. The purpose of the Youth Conference on Volunteerism is to provide middle and high school students the unique opportunity to network, learn, and be recognized for their commitment to community service.