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Mom of Washington, D.C. Third Grader uses Facebook Events to Share Daughter’s Winter Glove Drive with Worldwide Audience

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Photo credit: Dan Gross, The Gazette

After forgetting her gloves during a December walk with her parents, 9 year old Melia Gayaldo of Silver Spring, Maryland decided to start a glove drive to benefit the area’s homeless. Her original goal was to obtain a pair of donated gloves from each of the 50 states but she quickly surpassed that goal thanks to social media. To date, Melia has collected 449 pairs of gloves for men, women, and babies from all 50 states and 10 countries on four different continents for her self-named Warm Hands, Warm Hearts initiative that was shared on Facebook.

To spread the word about Warm Hands, Warm Hearts, Melia’s mother, Liz, set up a Facebook event called Melia’s Warm Hands, Warm Hearts in mid-December with a brief description. She also encouraged others to invite their friends to join the charitable act.

“My mom sent it out to her friends and they sent it to their friends and they sent it to their friends,” Melia explained.

Since one of the goals was to obtain a pair of gloves from each state, the Facebook page was instrumental in updating participants. Liz used the Facebook event as an electronic message board and let donors know that their gloves were received by tagging them in comments. She also regularly updated the event page to share which states were missing gloves. When a state was listed on Facebook, friends reached out to those they knew to ask them to send a pair.

It didn’t take long before multiple packages of gloves started to arrive in the mail daily, sometimes from complete strangers. Gloves were also given to her in person from community members such as her elementary school’s Assistant Principal who donated four pairs.

As the glove count went up, Melia had to move her donated items around the house. “At first we kept them in my room and then we put them behind the dining room table,” she said. By the time she was ready to donate the gloves to Shepherd’s Table, a local nonprofit that works with the area’s homeless, Melia had collected 327 pairs of gloves.

“We had 5 different boxes full of gloves and they were gigantic boxes of gloves!” Melia exclaimed during a phone interview. As gloves arrived, the third grader sorted them by type. Melia said she had piles of gloves for men, women, children, and babies.

While Melia has delivered donated items to Shepherd’s Table, she is continuing to collect new and gently used gloves for men, women, kids, and babies throughout the cold winter months. She plans of handing out some of the items in person around her hometown and nearby Washington, D.C.

Melia’s parents are proud of their daughter’s initiative to start Warm Hands, Warm Hearts since the Gayaldos make a point to take action to help others on a regular basis.

“I think we have always tried to focus on the fact that we’re fortunate and then when you can help someone else, you should,” said Liz. “If the opportunity is there we go for it if we can.”

Liz said that as a baby, Melia would be in the car while she would give things away as they drove by people in need.

“We still drive around on wicked hot days and pass out cold water. When it’s cold I get hot soup and throw together little lunches and give that away,” Liz shared. “Instead of giving cash, which we do sometimes too, I will buy someone food who is asking for money.”

How does Melia feel about the success of the movement she started because her own hands were cold during that December walk?

“It feels really cool and they’re still coming,” she said. Melia mentioned during our phone interview that she just came home from school and hadn’t opened the packages that arrived that day.

Melia is already planning a warm weather campaign to collect white t-shirts “because they’re reflective of the sun.”

For more information about Melia’s glove drive, visit the Warm Hands, Warm Hearts Facebook Event.

Photo credit: Dan Gross, The Gazette

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