By: Ashley Ricks
Most students at Oak Grove have partaken in some form of community service, whether it be for their own enjoyment, or simply to get an ‘A’ in their history class. Two juniors, however, have recently taken serving and helping others to whole new levels.
“Any difference, no matter how small, is a difference.” These are JoAnna Gunnufsen’s own words of encouragement in her quest to help others. Just two months ago she started collecting books for an organization called Books for Africa. “I saw that there was a need, and I wanted to help fill it,” Gunnufsen said. Books for Africa is an organization that supplies books to children and libraries whose bookshelves are scarce and whose education is inadequate because of it. BFA has shipped 22 million books to needy African communities and Gunnufsen hopes to add 1,000 to that number, but that’s not how she is defining success. “I’d call it a success even if I’d only received one book,” Gunnufsen said. However, she has already collected 150 books thanks to peers and Bourne Brothers Printing for spreading the word. Gunnufsen is making a huge impact on children’s lives that she may never even meet, and by simply donating a book, anyone could help that impact become even greater.
Kelly Liles was first inspired to start Dresses of Hope this past August through word of mouth. After hearing about the prom dress drive organization and realizing there was not one in Mississippi, she decided to take on the challenge. Dresses of Hope is an organization that collects lightly worn prom dresses and shoes no more than eight years old. “The goal of Dresses of Hope is to provide high school girls an opportunity that so many of us take for granted,” Liles said. So far, the organization has been a great success with $200 collected and many dress donations promised; however, there is still a lot of work to be done. An important part of the program is to become tax-exempt. The organization is almost at that stage with only $100 to go. Liles has taken on a big project that will make a big difference in girls’ lives, and she’s doing it with a positive attitude. “If I make one girl feel and look beautiful for her prom, then I believe I’ve accomplished my goal,” Liles said.
Gunnufsen and Liles are reaching out of their comfort zones and challenging themselves for the sake of others.
If you would like to donate to either cause: contact JoAnna Gunnufsen or Kelly Liles through Facebook or at school.