With many of the holidays behind us, we can all say we tried to celebrate as best we could, whether that meant watching a movie or playing Among Us with friends. Unfortunately, not everyone had as great of a Christmas. With the pandemic making it difficult for many of us to find jobs and make ends meet, we should all be grateful that we are happy and healthy during these times.
13-year-old Rylee Brooke Kamahele from Hawaii is working to show everyone what the holidays are all about: helping make this wonderful time of year special for everyone. She grew up volunteering with her parents to help at-risk youth, but at age eight decided to make an impact on her own. Despite the challenges she faced to be allowed to help out during the community service sessions, she started the successful organization Love Is a Verb, through which she organized numerous beach cleanups, entertained children at shelters, and provided Thanksgiving differs for the homeless––320 turkeys total, joined by the NFL’s Marshawn Lynch.
She also started a Secret Santa project to raise money for kids whose families cannot afford parties or presents for the holidays. This project has since expanded to include three shelters and one youth program, treating more than 300 kids to a memorable day filled to the brim with food, gifts, games, shaved-ice trucks and slush machines. All her initiatives are affiliated with the Catalyst Club, which seeks to help young individuals make a difference.
Throughout the pandemic Rylee has kept her effort strong, and this holiday season she is continuing to distribute food to families in need––2,500 boxes of foodstuffs every other week. She even raised money for a nonverbal little boy in her hometown who needs an iPad to communicate. She provided enough to pay for his equipment and a protective case, and she’s hoping to do the same for other children in her community.
She was recently honored as one of America’s top youth volunteers by the 2020 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards––a well-deserved award. It’s people like Rylee who really make the holidays the most wonderful time of the year.