Life at Miss Hall’sJan 11, 2022
— updated Jan 13, 2022
Taking initiative for the common good
Keely ’22 knows she can’t solve the problem of homelessness on her own, but she knows she can take action in her own Miss Hall’s way to help improve others’ lives.
That’s why she has reprised Bags of Hope, an initiative launched last year to provide reusable shopping bags filled with toiletries to residents in Pittsfield’s emergency winter shelter. Last year, she partnered with classmates Nelyan, Rory, and Sophia in the MAPS (Mira’s Alliance for Philanthropic Sustainability) Horizons site. This year, it is her independent senior Horizons project.
“The biggest difference is that last year we weren’t able to set up collection boxes, so it was mostly cash donations,” totaling more than $700, says Keely, who then purchased the toiletries that were donated. “This year, I wanted to do a drive with collection boxes and donations that were not monetary. That way, anyone could participate.”
Contributors have been dropping off bags — backpacks and bags with straps (they are easier to carry!) work best — and toiletries in collection boxes set up in the Ferguson Sun Room. Keely will deliver them in late January or early February to Pittsfield’s Barton’s Crossing emergency shelter.
The idea took shape last year, when Keely, as a junior, was volunteering with MAPS, an MHS student-led group that educates and fundraises within the MHS community and beyond to promote sustainable philanthropy locally and around the world.
“Just driving around with my mom and seeing so many people on the sides of the street asking for money or being homeless really got me thinking about what I could do,” she recalls. “Everyone needs toiletries, and they can be expensive, and there are a lot of food drives, so I thought I would collect toiletries. Bags seemed a good way to do that, and I thought this project would be a good one for MAPS.”
Keely envisions the effort becoming an annual one for MAPS and/or Horizons. “It really fits with what Miss Hall’s does with philanthropy,” she says. “It’s local. It’s something that can be done every year, and it’s needed. Ideally, we wouldn’t have as many homeless people, but I cannot change that on my own, so I chose this as something that could help improve peoples’ lives.”