We recently caught up with an inspiring group of local youth (ages 5-13) working together to impact one of the toughest social problems affecting our community—homelessness. Check out the Q & A below.
Please introduce yourselves.
We're the 7 Hills Youth Council, and we want to help create functional zero in Northwest Arkansas. Reaching functional zero would mean there are no consistent populations of people who are homeless—and that when someone does find themselves out of a home due to unfortunate circumstances, there are systems in place to get them back in a home in no time.
What motivates you all?
We're dedicated because—to be honest—it feels good to help. You can walk around knowing that you helped someone in need, that you're making our community better. All of the people on the council are friends, so that helps keep us working together, even if it doesn't always help us stay on task!
Tell us about some of your recent efforts.
A few months ago, we set up a stand at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, and just walked up to random people and asked them for money to help people experiencing homelessness in our town. We expected to raise maybe $500—it turned out that after 5 Saturdays, we raised $5,000!
Recently, we did a big event to raise money to purchase sleeping bags. Our goal was 100 sleeping bags—but then we got an invitation to visit the Coleman Company. We came out to talk about functional zero—and there were 120 sleeping bags waiting in the hallway, all being donated to 7 Hills!
Excited, we continued planning for our event. We went all over asking businesses to donate for our raffle. Not only would that make our event awesome, but we were also raising awareness all over Northwest Arkansas. After weeks of pestering different places, over 20 different local businesses helped with our fundraiser. Again, being kids prevailed!
The day of the event, January 19, was kind of crazy, in that there was a huge snowstorm. Rick's Bakery had donated seven huge boxes of donuts, which we precariously balanced in our arms as we slipped and slid to the space, an awesome music hall donated by the Roots Festival. We set up tables and a "Food Room" with bagels and pizza. On the stage, Smokey and the Mirror set up their instruments, and then finally, we were ready.
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So, how did the event go?
We didn't know how many people would come, but then the room started flooding with people. Smokey & The Mirror was a hit, and Wood Stone donated even more pizza after we ran out of the first batch! At the end of the night, after both raffle tickets and admission, we raised thousands more to add to our haul of sleeping bags. In total, we raised $10,000 including the cash and the value of the sleeping bags combined. It was so fun to send the checks on to 7 Hills.
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The future is filled with possibilities—what should we try to achieve next? Whatever it is that we're doing, we'll approach it with the goal of helping people, and a sense of joy.
The 7Hills Youth Council is made up of 14 members: Maggie, Elo, Samia, Irene, Huck, Ariana, Eva, Nikolai, Alexander, Caleb, Theo, Oliver, Mira, and Ava.