There are many things a 15-year-old could do with his free time, but for Thomas Connolly, a freshman at St. Joseph High School, he is spending his time providing educational bags to kids in need.
“I hope they feel joy, happiness, pride and just knowing someone is helping them during these times,” said Connolly.
Inspired by his mother, Thomas started The Giving Bag Organization, which provides bags filled with toys and toiletries to kids at the Boys and Girls Club in Kenosha. The bags are handed out during their meals-to-go program. So far they have handed out about 140 bags.
Thomas said it’s been a community effort. His job at US Cellular provided the bags, and his theater teacher Julie Seidl creates personalized bookmarks and cards for each child. People can donate a bag by purchasing one online for $10 or $25. Each bag includes toiletries and educational toys for kids who might not have access to Wi-Fi or technology while school is out.
“When there is no school and school is optional we are trying to give them something they can have fun with and get something out of,” said Connolly.
Thomas runs The Giving Bag Organization out of their headquarters located inside his parent’s garage. There, he has an office where he keeps track of donations and inventory items. Thomas said he never expected to spend his free time, running an organization but it feels great to support those in need.
“I did not think this is what I was going to be doing, but the quarantine has been pretty boring, so it keeps me busy other than having to do school,” said Connolly.
Kyle Matrise, Public Relations Director for The Giving Bag Organization, said the goal is to make sure children feel supported during this difficult time.
“Something that they can look forward to use in their daily life and smile,” said Kyle.
To find out more about the giving bag, click here.