Spotlight Newsletter | Sophia Smith’s Senior Project

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Warmhearted high school senior gets all the credit

Sophia Smith, Branford High SchoolSpecial delivery for kids with cancer

Sophia Smith, 18, has always been passionate about community service, so when the time came for her to plan her required senior project at Branford High School, she knew it would involve helping people in need.

REMEMBERING HOW SHE FELT when she was hospitalized at age 17, Sophia wanted to do something to make the experience less frightening for kids. She knew that pediatric cancer patients spend lots of time in the hospital—receiving infusions and other challenging treatments—so she chose to focus her efforts on kids with cancer.

Sophia planned her project for success, down to the last detail. First, she met with hospital staff and patients to learn about the emotional and physical needs of pediatric cancer patients. Based on these conversations, she decided to create gift baskets of items carefully chosen to provide comfort and relieve some of the side effects associated with treatment.

Sophia raised a stunning $2,500 through an online crowdfunding campaign. “A big online circle of people saw my story and wanted to help,” she says. “It was so humbling—so many wanted to help and were willing to give.”

Then, she used the money to purchase a range of items to fill over 30 gift baskets— including “Queasy Pops” (special lollipops to relieve nausea), hats to help with hair loss from chemotherapy, DVDs, and gift cards for parents to get a decent cup of coffee.

“There is so much learning that comes with helping other people,” says Sophia, “including empathy and being exposed to things you might not otherwise see. It’s important to get involved—anything you can do, big or little, is worthwhile.”
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