Generosity of community inspires student to keep making a difference
If you had asked Eve Honer a year ago what she planned to do after high school graduation, you probably would have received a typical high schooler response. What she’s doing now, however, is anything from typical and far from what she ever imagined herself doing.
“I never in a million years saw myself doing this, but I would love to keep going with it and someday take it to more schools in the county,” Honer says. “But I want to make sure we have it established in Perham before expanding. That’s my big goal.”
Her goal is building on what started as a project that was only supposed to be a trimester long when she was a senior in high school last year. As part of the curriculum for her English class, each student had to come up with an idea to do something out in the community. Honer and two of her classmates, Emma Briard and Teri Harthun, started Perham Students Making a Difference. The three decided to make their project hygiene kits because they saw kids being picked on for their hygiene, and they felt that wasn’t right.
Honer feels going to school is really a kid’s main job, and being bullied because of their hygiene isn’t fair. The kits are distributed to the elementary, junior high, high school, St. Paul’s, St. Henry’s, Celebrate Recovery and the Boys and Girls Club.
“Kids can’t really pay for things like shampoo and deodorant, so we wanted to do something about it,” she said. “I also thought it was important to do something with kids because I work at the Boys and Girls Club. The backpack program already existed which helps with food, so I thought hygiene would be the next thing I could help with.”
The three worked together along with the school social worker to get monetary donations from the community and collect items for the kits. “We had bins at different locations where people could drop off donations, and I was amazed at how much we collected,” Honer said.
The bags started with shampoo, body wash and deodorant, but as donations came in, the variety of items made Honer realize what else they could add to the bags. One thing that is very important to her that is added to each bag is socks.
“I tie a lot of kids shoes when I am working, and I noticed quite a few kids don’t have socks, so I started putting socks in the kits. That’s one thing I really wanted to put in there.”
Honer has been at the Boys and Girls Club since September 2016, and she started the project in Nov. 2016. She says working there has had a big influence on her because she’s developed a close connection to the kids, and she wants to make a difference and help them.
The projects usually end when the trimester is over, but Honer decided to keep on going.
“I saw how fast it went up and how many people were helping, and those numbers just encouraged me to keep asking for donations,” Honer said.
Honer is still working hard to secure donations, and the latest fundraiser is selling raffle tickets for a duck race on November 25 at the PACC. First place is $500, second place is $250, and third place is $50. Honer says she’s hoping to sell 3,000 tickets.
“If we do, then we will cover the cost of the hygiene kits for the rest of this school year, and we can focus on raising money for next year.”
Raffle tickets can be purchased at Wild Goose, Goose Gang, Nappa, the Locker Plant, the Feed Store, and the high school.
Last year during the school year they put together 350 kits, and this school year Honer gives out 250 kits per month. Now, for the most part, she’s putting the kits together herself in her parent’s basement. Laughing, she says it has the aroma of Irish Spring soap from all the boxes stacking up down there, but that’s okay, it’s for a good cause.
She recalls one Tuesday handing out kits at Celebrate Recovery where she provides childcare, when she overheard a mom say, “Oh my goodness, we just ran out of shampoo, this is perfect! Now I don’t have to worry about shampoo.”
Honer says those moments are the ones that make her feel good and motivate her to keep doing this. Even when she’s busy with work and college, and when it’s not what she would have ever imagined herself doing in a million years.
“But when it took off like it did, now, I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to ever stop. It feels really good to do good things,” she said.