The Rapidian

The challenge to do good

A local teenager started HopeHuggs&Tie-Dye to give hope to kids in the hospital.
Raqhelle Millbrooks

Raqhelle Millbrooks /Katie Caralis

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Email HopeHuggs&Tie-Dye at [email protected] or find them on Facebook.

When 9th grader Raqhelle Millbrooks was challenged to take action in her community, she took that challenge seriously, but remembered the importance of fun.

She started a project, HopeHuggs&Tie-Dye, to create tie-dyed shirts for children who are in the hospital in an effort to raise their spirits.

“Tie-dye is always happy,” Millbrooks, age 14, said with a huge grin on her face.

Giving kids a shirt “gives them a big hug of hope,” she said.

Millbrooks has lived in Grand Rapids her whole life and attends City High. She is part of the Mazizi Maji Mentoring Program at the Baxter Community Center. A component of the program called 3.0 Gets to Go! Education Through Travel! allows students who maintain a 3.0 GPA to go on trips. Last year, Millbrooks was part of a group that went to South Africa.

After that trip, Sharon LaChappelle, the director of the program, felt it was important to ask the kids, “what are you going to put back into your community now?”

LaChappelle encouraged the students to come up with an idea to help do good in the world. She was inspired after reading about Build-A-Bear Workshop’s Huggable Heroes, a program that recognizes “young leaders making a difference in their local communities and around the world,” according to the Build-A-Bear website.

Millbrooks was “the only one who picked up the ball and ran with it,” LaChappelle said.

“I wanted to do something for the community in the area of kids,” Millbrooks said.

She began brainstorming ideas in January. In the following months, HopeHuggs&Tie-Dye was born. With the help of volunteers, Millbrooks created her first batch of 30 shirts in April and is planning another tie-dye session soon. However, she’s still in the process of finding a hospital to work with. This has been just one of the challenges she has had to address along the way.

“It’s a lot of work because you have to get a lot of donations,” Millbrooks said.

She knows that asking family and friends for money can only take her so far. That’s why she is selling tie-dyed shirts and scarves to help support the project. She is also searching for someone who may be able to help donate supplies.

“I still want to keep going. I can’t just give up now,” Millbrooks said.


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