Maryland Seventh-Grader's Love for Helping Others Inspires Others

A club started by a Maryland girl to help the homeless has spread across the country and into Canada.

Michaela West said she has always wanted to help people.

“When I was three, I always wanted to help the homeless by giving them money and I wondered why no one ever gave them anything,” she said.

She came up with the idea for the Bundles of Love Club when she was just 8 years old. Her birthday is close to Christmas, and she felt like she received too many gifts. 

“So instead of my parents giving me gifts and all of my friends giving me gifts, I asked for stuff for the homeless, and then we bundled it into boxes,” she said.

“I said don’t worry about what’s in there, the most important thing is the love you’re giving them with, and she said, ‘Oh, I’m going to call them bundles of love,’” said her mother, Sophia West.

That turned into a small after school club at St. Joseph’s Regional Catholic School in Beltsville. Michaela said five or six people went to the first meeting, 20 were there next time and 44 the next time after that.

Now there are 15 chapters across the country and two in Canada.

The bundles start with survival items like socks, soap and toothpaste. Students add handmade cards and then wrap it all up in a blanket.

“They enjoy going out with their families and delivering those bundles, and my daughter is a part of it,” faculty advisor Marie Russu said.

The program also had a big impact on the adults in Michaela’s life.

“When we delivered on Christmas Day that first year, we all got in the car, and her dad and I thanked Michaela, because she gave us the opportunity to see what Christmas was really all about,” her mother said.

Reported by Leon Harris, produced by Michelle Montgomery and edited by Scott Eisenhuth.

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