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Sandy girl has mastered The Art of Giving

10-year-old Girl Scout collects blankets for the homeless and cares for their food needs


by: POST PHOTO: JIM HART - POST PHOTO: JIM HART Kalani shows her pride of accomplishment, standing in front of a pile, taller than her, of 103 blankets she collected for homeless people in the Sandy area. They will be distributed through the Sandy Community Action Center.Last Saturday, 10-year-old Kalani Miller of Sandy stood beside a neatly stacked pile of new blankets that was so tall she couldn’t see over it.

Kalani knew every blanket in that pile. She had asked everyone she knew, at home, in her neighborhood, at her church, and had collected blankets for several weeks.

Saturday was the day she arrived with her mother, Tara, and father, Richard, at the Sandy Community Action Center (SCAC). She was there to surprise Center Director Rita Ezard.

When she first told Ezard she would collect blankets, Kalani had set a goal of 30.

But Saturday, the Millers had to come in two vehicles to accommodate all the blankets. Kalani had gathered some sleeping bags and tarps as well as 103 blankets, and more than 80 of them were new.

“It’s amazing that people care this much,” Ezard said, “to be sure that other people are warm.”

While Kalani was standing beside the stack of blankets, a homeless man walked up to her and asked if he could have a blanket.

When Kalani handed him a blanket, the man was so overjoyed that his enthusiasm inspired the young girl.

But Kalani lives to help people in need.

Her words tell the whole story: As the man walked away with the new blanket under his arm, Kalani spoke to her mother. “That was awesome,” she said, showing the compassion of someone beyond her years.

Not only did she collect donated blankets, she also made a quilt and put it in a plastic case with a small Bible and a note that says, “Made with love by a 10-year-old girl.”

Kalani openly admits her desire to help other people, but it’s more than just a desire.

“I’ve always had a passion for helping other people,” she said. “So I decided to help the homeless, because I’ve heard about how much they need help.”

She started at the beginning of the summer, just trying to earn the Bronze Award (for community service) in Girl Scout Troop No. 42572.

But in mid-summer after earning the award, she decided to expand her work to include the St. Vincent de Paul bus that serves free lunches every Wednesday at SCAC.

She put food on plates and cleaned tables to make the lunch a pleasant experience for everyone.

“When I see how much the people need this help,” she said, “and when I see how shocked they are that a 10-year-old is helping them, it really gets me emotional.”

She also helped make lunches for the children who come to SCAC every day during the summer because that’s when the schools don’t serve free meals.

“I was here every (week) day, and made sandwiches for the kid lunches,” she said.

She also asked to help allocate family food boxes during SCAC’s monthly distribution.

Since Kalani was always working with her mother, the two also put prices on items and worked at the front counter helping people with their purchases and free items.

Because she’s a very organized person with everything in its place, Kalani says her favorite thing to do at SCAC is restocking the pantry because it must be arranged methodically.

Ezard says Kalani’s enthusiasm and self-motivation were so deep that during the past six months she has only grown in her insatiable thirst to bring people what is essential for their lives.

When summer was over, Kalani told her mother she wasn’t done and wanted to conduct the blanket drive. So she sent emails, posted fliers around town and asked members of her church, Abundant Life Church, to give blankets to the homeless.

Her mother said she set a goal of 30 to have something to work for.

“We didn’t think she’d even get 30,” Tara said. “But when she got 103 blankets, we were all in shock. I’m very proud of her.”

It is obvious to anyone watching Kalani that she wants to motivate others to join her in helping people in need.

It was that depth of enthusiasm that motivated Abundant Life members to gather and assemble 56 blankets as a gift and support to this young disciple.

Kalani has told her mother that there aren’t enough people helping other people in need.

But it was the visual impact of seeing that tall stack of blankets that caused Kalani to say to her mother, “No matter how small you are, you can make a big difference.”

With tenacity and courage she forges ahead, trying to fill every need and inspire others to help. And she doesn’t go unnoticed.

A senior at Sandy High School has been motivated by the actions of this little girl with a big heart. The senior has been inspired so much that she has begun a senior project to help homeless people.

She wants to be like Kalani, and she told Tara that her daughter has inspired her to do this work.

With time off for the Thanksgiving holiday, Ezard says Kalani has volunteered this week to help distribute food boxes from the local ministerial association.

“When she first came (to SCAC) she wanted to work with homeless people,” Ezard said of Kalani, “but now she wants to work with everyone (who needs help).”