WICHITA — Fourteen-year-old Raven Caldwell spent her Friday night driving 600 miles to Wichita from Minnesota with her mother and sister.
They didn’t come to town to see a concert or go shopping.
Instead, Raven wanted to “be the change.”
As part of a class project at her Owatonna, Minn., school, Raven solicited donations of household items to help victims of the April 14 tornado that tore through Oaklawn.
While other classmates chose projects to help people overseas, Raven wanted to help fellow Midwesterners.
She researched where disasters had occurred and where she could help.
“I had heard about tornadoes” in Kansas, Raven said.
She heard about the destruction in Oaklawn and south Wichita and chose to help there.
Her mother, Tanya Artmann, drove a bright yellow moving truck, donated by Penske, to His Helping Hands, a community service ministry at Central Christian Church.
His Helping Hands gives furniture, appliances, household goods and clothing to people in need. Its motto is “We Help People Help People.”
Raven and her family left Minnesota about 6 p.m. Friday night and arrived in Newton about 5:30 a.m. They got to His Helping Hands on 37th Street North near I-135 about 8:30 a.m. Saturday.
There, volunteers with the ministry helped unload furniture and boxes of clothing and the stuff that makes a house a home.
Raven had labeled each box and kept track of what was donated. Some of the donations came from her grandmother and a cousin.
Paul Dohm, executive director of His Helping Hands, said Raven’s donations will go to Oaklawn residents. The ministry serves people by referral and appointment. Clothing is distributed without an appointment.
“We look for people who have a need,” Dohm said, adding that residents of Oaklawn displaced by the EF-3 tornado certainly qualify. “Our goal is to meet the needs of the neediest.”
Artmann and her daughters – Raven’s sister Chiara Caldwell came along for the trip – planned to attend a service with Dohm later Saturday.
Raven hopes to next help people near Duluth, Minn., affected by flooding.
“I want to help the little towns around Duluth,” Raven said.
Anyone interested in Raven’s projects may e-mail Artmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.