Brianna Hope, 15, and Skyla Campbell, 14, were best friends in South Carolina where they both lived. The teens met through a home-school group. But a year ago, Hope moved to Naperville, and the girls had to find a way to keep their friendship intact.
They decided that a nonprofit to help others was the best way to do that. Their organization, Operation Global Impact, is constantly in flux as the girls work to find donations for one project, send them off, and then move on to another group that has another need.
It began with helping a group of children in Rwanda.
“The kids were wearing really tattered clothes,” Campbell said. “I got a local company to make custom T-shirts.”
By using local companies in the Charleston area, Campbell would reach out to various organizations based on what she needed for the organizations she wanted to help. From Pier One Imports, she received more than 75 sock monkeys. Another time it was shoes for a refugee camp in Rwanda.
Hope, who still lived in South Carolina at the time, watched her friend find all the donations and work to help others.
“I wanted to tag along, too,” Hope said.
The girls found it was something they could do together.
“We wanted to be hands-on to make a difference in the world,” Hope said. “We could work together as a team.”
Hope and Campbell are very methodical in how they find who needs what donations and how they set out to help people. One of their projects is a boarding school in Honduras, run by Campbell’s aunt. This time they are seeking kazoos, paint, art supplies and books.
“They tell us what needs they have,” Campbell said of the organizations they work with. “It’s not just setting up random things.”
While Hope is still relatively new to the donation scene, especially because she is doing it on her own in Naperville, Campbell already has helped a number of schools and organizations abroad.
Jane Bond is a retired teacher from the Charleston Public Schools in South Carolina, where Campbell lives. Bond serves as the director of Amahoro Children’s School in Musanze, Rwanda. Campbell has worked with Bond several times to secure books, kazoos, and T-shirts for the children, who range from ages 4 to 6, at the school.
“Skyla has been a tremendous help and has taken an interest in our children,” Bond said. “The children have been very excited and helped by her efforts.”
It’s been a little trickier for Hope.
“Brianna has started up there (in Naperville) not having local connections,” Campbell said. “But probably the hardest thing to find are places to serve as donation sites because we’re not big or a nonprofit.”
But Hope also said that working on the donations has helped her confidence.
“It helps get me out of my comfort zone, the opportunity to help people,” Hope said.
But the girls also appreciate the chance they have to work together.
“We’re like sisters,” Campbell said. “We talk over each other.”
And they are able to keep in touch more because of the donation projects. Campbell recently spent a week in snowy Naperville.
“We get to hang out more to work on a project,” she said. “And we stay strong as friends.”
Helping others binds them together while they learn something about life.
“This has taught us both a lot about giving,” Campbell said. “We are learning that we are agents of change, and it opens our eyes to the possibilities.”
And they know that they could easily be like many other teens, but this outreach is more rewarding.
“We could be teens doing the same thing every day, school, etc.,” Hope said. “But here we do more than help ourselves.”