Makaela Miller, a sophomore at Homewood-Flossmoor High School, used her own money to help with school supplies so students at Willow School in Homewood would have all the essentials.
That was in August 2018.
She repeated her act of kindness this year, and her brother Myles, a second grader at Willow, joined her.
Makaela said she just decided kids needed to be prepared for their school year.
“I wanted kids to be successful on the first day and have everything they needed when they came to school,” she said. The Millers’ gifts were delivered just days before school started so the supplies would be available to Willow staff to distribute.
Willow Principal Melissa Lawson said it was great “to see how our students give back.”
Makaela’s gifts were the typical school supplies – pencils, crayons, folders, notebooks. She watched for sales and her dad took her to stores to scour for the supplies and backpacks. She filled pink and black backpacks. Her brother chose blue backpacks.
She sent notes to a few family members and neighbors who made some supply donations, but the majority of the donations were things Makaela and Myles selected and paid for.
“I walked up and down the aisles and saw typical generic items and thought ‘These are what the kids need,’” she said. The family’s dining room table became a workspace as Makaela and Myles sorted supplies to make certain each backpack was full of essentials.
Last year Makaela used money she got as eighth grade graduation gifts. This year she saved almost $200 of her allowance. And Myles, influenced by his older sister, used his allowance money to supply four backpacks.
“It’s an exciting feeling that he kind of understands the needs of other kids and it’s not all about me,” Makaela said.
Their parents, Michael and Michelle Miller, say their children took on this project because they “just want to be a blessing to others.”