May 1, 2020--Germantown, Tennessee-- Houston High School junior Graham Oldershaw is making the best of a short school year by creating hundreds of goody bags for frontline healthcare workers. With the help of his family, he is supplying snacks, homemade masks, and other gifts to local Germantown heroes on the front lines.
Graham drew inspiration from his mother who shared The Starfish Story with him and his sister. The story follows a father and son as they walk on the beach after a large storm. The ground is littered with washed-up starfish. As the boy picks up starfish and throws them back into the ocean, the old man tells him that he won’t make that much of a difference— to which the little boy replies, “I made a difference to that one”.
“Kids who are showing their communities positivity can help keep hospital workers motivated especially during these times when everything is out-of-whack,” Graham says, “If kids have an idea they should go ahead and do it. It doesn’t have to be elaborate—just something that makes people happy each day”. His mother, Erin Oldershaw, who works at Dogwood Elementary School, could not be prouder. “It was originally Graham’s idea to make goody bags for our hospital workers,” she told us. The Oldershaws have a family friend who is a nurse at Germantown Methodist Hospital. After bouncing the idea off of her the project quickly took shape.
Graham, who is in the Houston Band and active with Germantown Legends Soccer, is also a member of the Houston High Honors Academy. Part of the requirements for Academy members is a culminating service project. Graham saw his goody-bag project as a perfect fit. “I have felt incredible support from my Honors Academy peers who are keeping the donations going strong,” added Graham.
After approval of the project, Graham launched announcements to local school principals, the Houston High Honors Academy, and several local Facebook groups. The result has been overwhelmingly positive. The first week of deliveries included snacks and water bottles funded by the cash donations and from his parents. One local business donated hundreds of pairs of soft leggings—something Graham thought the nurses would enjoy. Elementary school principals are reaching out to their students remotely to request handwritten cards for the bags and taking up weekly collections. Each goody bag also includes homemade masks. “My mom and sister are sewing around the clock to make all of these,” said Graham. Houston High biology teacher Jessica Minton is printing one hundred ear guards for medical masks on her 3-D printer, a partnership that was very exciting to Graham.
If you are wondering how to help, you can visit his Sign Up Genius
to make donations or have your children make handmade cards to be dropped off in bins that Graham has supplied in front of each GMSD elementary school. “And masks—we need more masks!” said his mother Erin.