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Making a Difference

"Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around." Leo Buscaglia

"Can one person make a difference in the world?"

That is a question Tammy Simms asked her middle school classes.

To find the answer, she gave her students a project. Each student was given $10. The money was to be used in any way possible to make a good difference in the community. It could be given away, donated to a worthy cause, or used to create more money which can then be used to help others. Twenty-six students participated in the challenge.

Sixth grader Jackson Havard decided to support East Texas Cancer Alliance of Hope, a local nonprofit geared to helping those affected by cancer. He posted a video on Facebook sharing the news about his project while asking for donations for the Alliance.

"We are trying to determine if one person can make a difference in the world," he said in the video. "We were each given $10 and are to use it for a worthy cause."

Within 24 hours, Jackson more than quadrupled his efforts. He received $260 in donations and with his $10, he was able to donate $270 to the Alliance.

"I went to Ms. Ashley Berry today and she said that the East Texas Cancer Alliance of Hope serves around 80 clients a month," he said in a follow-up video posted to social media. "Ms. Ashley said two teenagers were diagnosed with cancer and this money will go towards gas cards for their parents to help with back and forth trips to MD Anderson and anything else that is needed. Thanks again for your support, and yes, this project showed that we can all make a difference."

Seventh grader Allie Frost decided to support Harold's House East Texas Alliance for Children for her project. Harold's House is a children's advocacy center in Lufkin. Allie saw on social media the organization needed snacks and drinks for the children at the center. She was able to double her donations and went shopping for the needed groceries. She dropped them off at Harold's House afterwards. She said they were grateful for her service.

"I just love helping," Allie said. "I learned that it doesn't have to be a group to make a difference; one person can change the world."

Here is a look at the total number of nonprofits that were helped and donations given by the students.

East Texas Cancer Alliance of Hope $270

Kurth Memorial Animal Shelter & Adoption Center $140

Harold's House $20

Neches House $20

Pinecrest Retirement Community $15

Toys for Tots $30

Winnie Berry Humane Society$93.00

Salvation Army $220

Local church programs $40

St. Cyprian's Episcopal School $105

The students started with $260, but through their efforts they were able to multiple that amount into $956.

"I felt like God was leading me to help each student learn that one person can truly make a difference in the world," Tammy said. "It's not just something we say; we proved it is true."

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