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The City Journals

Bingham High Teen Coordinates, Motivates Others With Service Projects

May 05, 2016 03:18PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

South Jordan - Bingham High senior Hannah Sirstins not only embraced her community, but the world, when she coordinated classmates to make a difference by helping those in need.

“In the 21st century, teenagers have a stereotype of being entitled and are unmotivated,” Hannah said. “This concern being addressed, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and put a stop to the idleness of today’s generation.”

After talking with teacher Aubrey Turnbow, she decided to begin by gathering items for Filipinos.

“I have a close friend who was in the Philippines and knew about the typhoon that had done damage and wanted to do something to help,” she said.

In gallon-size Ziplocs, Hannah and other students from the Family Consumer Science classes donated and assembled kits for children and adults. The kits for kids included coloring books, squirt guns, stuffed animals, Nerf balls and other items. The donations for adults included personal hygiene items.

“It was super fun putting those together and imagining what their faces would look like as they will get them. As we worked on this, I knew people in Haiti who suffered from the earthquake could use our help,” she said.

So with donated fabric from JoAnn’s and remnants from the school’s sewing program, Hannah got sewing students and other students to sew 30 drawstring bags.

“These are bags that they can use for multiple uses from medical supplies to books to daily use,” she said.

Hannah didn’t stop there; she decided to help local school children.

“The more I was helping, the more I realized we could do more,” she said.

With a goal of getting 70 preschool-age books in the hands of early readers at Terra Linda Elementary School in West Jordan, Hannah put up fliers and set out boxes at the school for donations.

“When it came close for the drive to be over, I looked in the box and saw a total of nine books, and I think most of those were from one teacher. I couldn’t believe it. So I went around my neighborhood and got a ton from neighbors who wanted to help. I also posted it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram,” she said.

What came next surprised her. 

“After posting it, I opened my front door and there was bags and bags of books. I must have had three bags of 40 to 50 books. I realized I had found a way to connect and reach others who also wanted to help others in the community,” she said.

When Hannah delivered 180 books to the school, each student could have a book.

“I instantly became their best friend and it drew smiles on their faces. It was such a rewarding experience,” Hannah said, adding that she got to read “Gloria and Officer Buckle” to the kindergartners.

Hannah’s desire for community service may have stemmed from her mother, who died three years ago.

“Everyone always talks about her volunteering, making dinner for others and giving of herself quietly. I’d like to think I’m making her proud following in her footsteps,” she said.

With these projects, Hannah entered the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America’s Students Taking Action with Recognition contest. She entered her community service projects, “STAND,” for Start Taking Action Now for a Difference. She outlined how she got others involved from donating to assembling kits and sewing backpacks, and how many lives they touched in the process. She won at the regional level and was to compete in the state contest on March 22.

“When she told me what she wanted to do and how she wanted to help others, I wasn’t surprised,” Turnbow said. “She’s a true leader, a detailed planner, someone others look up to and likes to be around and involve other people. It’s amazing how she helped others in two countries as well as in her own community.”

Hannah said she’s learned much from stepping up.

“I learned how I could manage and organize and how I can get others involved. The support I received was overwhelming. I learned that we can’t necessarily change the world, but by doing one little thing, it can bring much joy and happiness and we can change that one person,” she said.