Manitowoc teen receives grant to sponsor birthday parties for homeless kids

MANITOWOC, Wis. Manitowoc eighth grader, Lia Haile has been doing community service projects since she was only in second grade and says she loves making a difference. She was awarded a $500 "Disney Summer of Service Grant,” the grant is only given to 270 youth leaders across the country.

Lia Haile, 8th grade

Lia is the founder of the "Hopeful Hearts Club,” who sponsors birthday parties for kids staying at "Hope House," a homeless shelter in Manitowoc, but that's not all she does.

“She also does gift bags for the kids when they enter the shelter, it has a stuffed animal and a blanket and a few hygiene products for them, and when I know the ages of the kids I'll put that on their beds, so that's the first thing they see when they see their room and they love it, their faces light up," said Katie Koenig, Case Manager for Hope House.

Each year Lia throws a dozen birthday parties for the kids of Hope House, but it's not just limited to birthdays, earlier this year Lia sponsored a baby shower for one of the shelter's guests. She hopes to continue sponsoring parties at Hope House next year with the grant.

"No matter what she kind of sets her mind to she always gets it done, so I admire that about her, she never really takes no for an answer, she just keeps going and does what she needs to do to complete her projects," says Tania Haile, Lia’s mom.

"I just really love what I do, I love working with the people here at Hope House, they're very nice and the staff's nice. I love seeing the kids and you know just being with them and seeing their reactions on their birthdays," said Lia.

Lia's "Hopeful Hearts Club" has also donated more than 3,000 meals, 2,400 sets of school supplies and 1,000 winter coats this year.

"It really warms your heart, like there's not really a feeling I could use to describe it, it's such a nice feeling I guess when you're able to make somebody's day and you see their smile like it's really something that you keep inside you and carry with you forever," Lia says.

"She works really hard, I think she's a great role model, she's taught me a lot about being a giving person, she's just a really good person and I'm proud of her," said Tania Haile.

For more information type in “Hopeful Hearts Club” on Facebook. Donations can be sent to Attn: Director of Hope House, 1110 S. 10th St, Manitowoc, WI, 54220. Please reference "Hopeful Hearts" with the donation. All checks payable to Hope House are tax deductible.