By: Sveta Naryan

My name is Sveta Naryan, I am a 16-years-old FLEX student from Russia and Greenheart Club member living in Arizona. As a Greenheart Club member for the Global Youth Service Day I decided to do a toy drive in my school.

Sveta with her toy drive

I wanted to do a toy drive because I think that every child deserves to have toys growing up and knowing that some kids do not have them makes me sad. I also have a host brother who had a lot of new or barely used toys that he could donate. I thought that other students at Desert Hills High School may have had the same situation. At first, I felt a little insecure, because I had never done anything like this before and I wasn’t sure people from my school would bring toys at all. At the same time, I was excited and I knew there were people who were there to help me. First of all, my local coordinator helped me a lot with planning the toy drive. Secondly, I tried to find as much help at school as possible.

My school’s principal liked the idea of hosting a toy drive at school, so after his approval I thought of the people that were able to help me. I am involved in the Student Council and the National Honor Society (NHS) at school. At the meetings of both organizations I presented the idea of having a toy drive at school. Both of the groups liked it and were eager to support me and provide me with help.

First of all, the Student Council agreed that every member would bring at least one toy. They also said that they would help me with posting fliers and motivating people to donate toys. My local coordinator helped me with designing a nice flier that announced the drive. She also picked up the boxes from the United Way and brought them to school. The promotion of the drive was probably the most challenging, but also exciting part of the drive. I tried to do the best that I could: together with other Student Council and NHS members we put up fliers all over the school, went class-to-class several times announcing the drive, talked to our friends and teachers and reminded people to bring toys to school. I decided to be a good example and brought a lot of toys myself. Doing a lot of announcements was a little challenging for me, because although I really enjoy talking to people, it sometimes is a little hard for me to do public speeches, especially in front of people who are not necessarily really interested in what I am saying. So not only did I need to announce; I also needed to motivate.

To be honest, I felt a little insecure at the beginning of the toy drive. However, I had a lot of toys by the end of the week, much more than what I expected and even a little more than what I hoped for. I felt really pleased and proud of myself and all the people who had helped me.

Doing this project I learned a lot. I learned to trust my peers and ask for help and support when it is needed. I also learned that it is very important to focus on the result of the action and do my best to get the best result possible. At the end of the toy drive I was very happy that I made a difference in the life of someone else and that I had something physical and tangible to prove this difference: two big boxes of toys for kids!