Glenwood Springs, CO — Chandra Starr is a young teen who gained national attention when she collected close to $20,000 for a local hunger relief organization — one penny at a time. Last year Chandra’s story appeared on the NBC Nightly News. Scholastic News featured her in the magazine last November.
This year Chandra is raising money to address homelessness in the Roaring Fork Valley.
Seven years ago, Chandra and her mother, Kim Starr Walker were living in a tent — not by choice. They were hungry and homeless.
Chandra remembers those difficult days vividly. Through their faith, determination, and courage, Chandra and her mother were able to rise above their unfortunate situation. Rather than allow hardship to jade her positive view of life, she has made it her personal mission to “Pay it Forward” for those in need.
When asked what drives her to tackle hunger relief and homelessness, Chandra says, “The first time someone gave us help, my Mom cried and asked what we can do for them. Even though we were in a desperate situation my Mom taught me that it’s not about getting a hand out. It’s about the love we give to others as a hand up when they fall.”
This year’s Million Penny Project is called Chandra’s Hope inspired by her own personal experience being homeless. Chandra along with her friends Macy Stinson, Halie Holmes, Grace Burner, Harrison Coley, Kodett Tomasso, and David Gabriel — all students at St. Stephens Catholic School — will work to raise $10,000 for a homeless shelter and relief efforts in the Roaring Fork Valley. The money raised will be given to an organization providing temporary housing and a few months financial and educational support to help people with a hand up.
According to Chandra, several community groups are forming to take a lead role to address homelessness in the Roaring Fork Valley. As part of her commitment to donors, she and the volunteers know they will find the perfect organization before the project’s June 15, 2015, deadline.
Chandra explains, “As the donors’ sponsor, we have an obligation to make sure donations are placed with the right organization(s) able to maximize the money given. Just like I did with my donation to Growing Food Forward last spring.”
The students will take an active role in interviewing organizations, and will announce their choice publicly in July 2015.
Last March, Chandra raised over $20,000 of her $10,000 goal in 12 weeks, and donated the money to Growing Food Forward, a 501(c)(3) Colorado charitable corporation. Under the direction of Kim Doyle Wille, Growing Food Forward was able to maximize Chandra’s donation with other grant donors, and built 102 community gardens throughout the Roaring Fork valley and west to Parachute. The community supported gardens provided fresh produce and hunger relief for hundreds of individuals and families throughout the summer until a final winter harvest in December.
“I am so grateful to be a part of Growing Food Forward’s success,” says Chandra, “I see these wonderful gardens and hear about stories of all the people being helped, and it makes me very happy.”
Please look for the Million Penny Project: Chandra’s Hope jars at local businesses throughout the Roaring Fork Valley, or visit the Chandra’s Hope to donate.
Visit Chandra at Facebook to get information on local events and volunteer opportunities. Chandra and her friends hope you will support this effort to address homelessness in our community by giving your pennies to Chandra’s Hope.