Senior Anna Chriss is a member of the Girl Scouts, president of Key Club, and founder of The Anna Chriss Care Package Project.
Since she was 11 years old, Chriss has collected supplies to aid those in need Thanksgiving day. Her drive to help the homeless started on the way to ballet lessons downtown, which passed facilities to serve the homeless.
“Every time, my mom and I would drive past the Loaves and Fishes area,” said Chriss. “I asked my mom about the homeless a few times and I remember one of her answers being that the group of people I saw every Monday and Wednesday on our way to ballet did not have the same things I had.”
Wondering how she could help, she created her project to share resources that not all are fortunate enough to have. At school she informs students about the impact of helping, in hope of inspiring classmates.
“I have had a swarm of people wanting to donate this year,” said Chriss. “Younger Girl Scouts, older community members, families and many others have reached out to me wanting to donate whatever they can to the project.”
With the help of faculty, she is able to facilitate this project and inform students. Once everything has been donated, she assembles over 170 packages during one of her classes.
To Chriss, her favorite part is witnessing friends and classmates helping. Her hope is to teach those involved and gain perspective.
“I hope that anyone who takes part in the project gains more sympathy and respect for the homeless,” said Chriss.
She encourages kids to participate and personally invest and spread joy to the families who receive the donations, for the gracious and kind thanks she receives is the most rewarding aspect of the project.
“The people receiving the bags are so thankful and kind. The experience of mutual humanity is so heartwarming and I love spreading a little bit of joy and being able to personally pass out the care packages.”
Her kindness and helping hand engages the community to make a positive impact in the world.
“I think the impact of this project reaches far and wide to so many different groups of people,” said Chriss. “The homeless benefit from the care packages and knowing they are not alone in their struggles. I want those involved to see the people behind the negative stigma that surrounds the homeless.”
Last year, Chriss was able to witness the people behind the stigma firsthand on the outskirts of Sacramento. She came upon a tent where a married couple lived.
“The wife was so grateful that we found her and her husband and called out to us that: ‘I prayed someone would find us out here on Thanksgiving.’”
Unable to be with family, food, and warmth, the couple was able to share Thanksgiving day with the Chriss family.
“I want people to know that there are always others out there thinking of them and willing to lend a helping hand,” said Chriss.
Through the Girl Scouts, Chriss put in lots of research and effort to win the Girl Scout Gold Award. Requiring at least 80 hours of work to win, she put in 300 hours into planning and executing her project.
Less than five percent of Girl Scouts receive this honor and is equivalent to a Boy Scout’s Eagle Scout Award. Last June, she received her Gold Award at the Girls Who Inspire ceremony.
Her compassion and selflessness continues to touch the lives of many as she continues this project for her sixth consecutive year.
This year, because school was closed the Friday before Thanksgiving, Chriss assembled and distributed bags in December.
“Each new year, there is more and more recognition of the project because more people have been involved with it in the past and share with those who want to be involved in the future,” said Chriss. “Almost like a ripple effect.”