At 10 years old -- and just a few days shy of her eleventh birthday -- Sophie Horst already knows the definition of community service. A District of Columbia resident and a student at Sidwell Friends School, Sophie recently put together 50 snack packs (totaling about $300) for the local StandUp For Kids chapter.
After hearing about StandUp For Kids - DC through a co-worker at the National Democratic Institute, Sophie's mother, Marjan Ehsassi, thought this might be a good cause for her daughter to learn more about. Sophie took the time to speak with Lindsay Robinson, former Executive Director of the D.C. chapter, and she quickly learned just how serious the problem of youth homelessness is right in her own city.
So naturally when it came time for the fifth grade "Quaker Quest", a learning experience in which each student must complete a task that tends to focus on community service, Sophie thought a StandUp For Kids - DC donation drive would be a worthwhile endeavor.
"I used to live in a nice neighborhood, but when I would walk up to Safeway or Starbucks, I would see people that didn't seem like they had a home. It made me really sad, said Sophie. "I felt like it would be a good thing to help people, not only in the U.S., but people in D.C. I think it is important to start with where you live."
To raise awareness for the group, Sophie plastered the school hallways with posters displaying the StandUp For Kids mission, along with the organization's website and statistics taken from the recent "48 Hours" campaign. After not only raising cash donations and non-perishables in the school's food drive, Sophie and her family went above and beyond, visiting the local grocery store and purchasing enough canned pasta, popcorn and other food items to fill 50 snack packs. She even topped them off with a sweet treat.
"I put in a little ball of chocolate because I thought that would be nice," said Sophie.
And good will must run in the family, because even Sophie's siblings got in on the task. Sophie and her brother Cyrus sat with their mother to put together the individual meals, then hand-delivered them to StandUp For Kids - DC.
So while other kids her age may be focused on book reports and other pressing projects, Sophie Horst is also focusing on helping other young people -- hoping to make a difference in the lives of the nearly 3,000 homeless and at-risk youth in Washington, D.C..