Western Springs student perfects the art of giving
Kaley Shannon writes different chapters of the Bible on a board. The LTHS student does a lot of fundraising work and is involved in several activities at school and helps lead her youth group. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Siblings: Jack, 25; Danny, 16; and Bridget, 12
Activities: theater, cross-country, Student Council, Western Springs Baptist Church youth group
Favorite class: Interpersonal communication
Updated: October 15, 2012 7:18AM
WESTERN SPRINGS — Kaley Shannon, 17, not only believes kids can make a difference — she has also proven it.
And she intends to continue demonstrating the level of action kids can take when they are asked to help a cause.
Shannon, a senior at Lyons Township High School, has founded two organizations: Students Hearts for Haiti and the Roessler Project. Students Hearts for Haiti raised $100,000 in the first nine months after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti in January 2010.
“When I saw a newscast of what had happened and how children were roaming the streets while their friends and parents were crushed, I thought ‘What if that were my siblings and parents?’” she said.
With her dad’s encouragement she brought an idea to help to her youth group at Western Springs Baptist Church, where they all thought of what the people would need most. Then they began to act.
“We baked 2,000 cookies and passed them out for free,” she said.
They raised $3,000 in one day alone for the American Red Cross.
They spread the word to children at 26 schools, Shannon said.
“Kids were so eager to help. All you had to ask was ‘How would you feel?’” she said. “A lot of people seem to underestimate how much power lies within a child. Kids have the power to change the world if you just ask them and give them the proper resources.”
They raised the money through sales of baked goods, T-shirts, and wristbands.
When they had $25,000, Cubs’ Jamie Moyer matched the donation. When they hit $75,000, Shannon’s uncle and Children International’s Vice President of Planning and Project Management Pat McDonnell matched that mark with a donation of $25,000, bringing the total to $100,000.
With that money, they were able to fund a four-classroom school, a water well, $25,000 for an alternative income program for all women of a community, and a medical clinic, she said.
Shannon was a freshman when she began this project. As a junior, she started another initiative called The Roessler Project, which became a Student Council initiative after the end of the academic year. It aided the family of Shannon’s English teacher, Jessica Roessler, whose daughter was in critical medical condition. They raised $4,321.45, according to Director of Student Activities Peter Geddeis.
“I just came up with the idea, organized an opportunity and let it go from there,” she said.
The Lyons Township High School Board recognized her at a meeting with a national award nomination for service; Prudential Financial, Inc.’s The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards had recognized her as a “distinguished finalist” for her volunteerism. She is one of just 234 students the program recognized in 2012.
She has been spending a lot of time this year applying to colleges, 12 so far, with hopes of studying public administration in order to prepare for a career in the nonprofit area.
“I definitely want to study abroad in a Third World country,” she said.
Africa, India and South America are particularly interesting to her. She visited Guatemala this summer on a 10-day missionary trip with her youth group.
If she could start any program she would like, she would focus on building kids’ leadership skills.
“I would focus on empowering kids through implementing a mandatory leadership course for kids. Kids have the power to change the world,” she said.