As a leader at Shortridge High School, senior Alice Pickett recently led a group of her peers on a mission to make a difference in the community.
For the second consecutive year, members of the Lost Arts Club used their crochet skills to make hats and blankets and purchase other necessary clothing and toiletry items for about 500 Indianapolis-area veterans served by Helping Veterans and Families (HVAF) of Indiana. HVAF is a non-profit organization that works to make sure veterans have a safe space and skills to create a life of self-sufficiency.
Shortridge students delivered the brightly wrapped donations to help out Indianapolis-area veterans to let them know they are not forgotten.
This is the second year the Lost Arts Club has donated to the local veterans’ homeless shelter. After the success of last year, the members wanted to continue to make a difference in their community.
Pickett made it the club’s mission to spend the first semester of school collecting items and handmaking special gifts during the club’s after-school meetings.
To fund the effort, Pickett applied for and received her second Youth Engaged Service (YES) Grant provided by the Indiana 4-H Foundation. Sponsored by the Nola Gentry Charitable Trust and Corteva Agriscience, this grant celebrates noteworthy service projects that are organized, budgeted, and implemented by Indiana youth.
“We on the YES Grant Committee find ourselves inspired by the thought and passion that went into these grant proposals,” said Aaron Sandel, Indiana 4-H Foundation Board and YES Grant Committee member. “Each recipient was chosen through a detailed proposal review, and these grant winners exemplify the themes of service, organization, and dedication that we sought.”
The Lost Arts Club, one of 24 statewide projects funded by the YES Grant and Indiana 4-H Foundation, promotes a culture of community service by uplifting projects that directly address community needs.
“I have a strong passion for community service,” Pickett said. “The YES Grant allowed me to pursue that passion on a larger scale.”
Pickett and the students used the grant to purchase tie blanket kits, yarn and crochet needles for the club to create much-needed items for local homeless veterans. Club members made 15 blankets and learned a new crochet skill to make 15 hats. To help a larger number of veterans, Pickett used much of the money to purchase underwear, socks and toiletry kits. These are items that HVAF found to be in demand no matter the time of year.
To stretch the funds as far as they could go, Pickett shopped sales and clearance racks to purchase about 200 pairs of underwear and 150 pairs of socks.
As Christmas was nearing, Pickett boxed and wrapped all the items in large boxes. Several days before Christmas, five members of the club delivered the boxes.
Pickett helped create the club in 2020 when Shortridge High School transitioned to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The idea of the club is to expose students to arts and crafts that are not commonly taught in school or at home,” said Pickett. “As a club, we discuss projects that we want to do, like knitting, crocheting, origami, photography, or anything else people want to try. Then we select a couple to focus on during the year.”
The club also has a focus on community service. All of their projects are donated or help the school or community in some way. Meetings are held after school and the kids learn a skill and create various projects.
Pickett provides instruction she learns from experience, the internet, and YouTube. The meetings are also a time to talk, enjoy a fun activity, and have a break from the rigors of academics and the other pressures of high school.
“It’s very relaxing to crochet and talk with my friends,” said Danika McVay, a sophomore, who quickly embraced the spirit of learning and service. She was quick to learn to crochet and just as quick to help deliver the items to HVAF.