Instead of focusing on things like prom and where to go to college, MaryRose Purdue, a high-school senior in Hopatcong, New Jersey, relentlessly serves others.
Purdue has collected over 200 coats and donated them to Project Self-Sufficiency, a nationwide non-profit that serves the needy in her New Jersey area. Its mission is to help low-income people achieve stability through a variety of programs, including parenting classes, G.E.D. preparation, job-seeking help, and more.“She saw a need and decided to do something about it,” her mother, Barbara Purdue, told Lisa Pachnos, the publicist for Project Self-Sufficiency. “She knew that they would be given to people who really needed them.”
MaryRose set up donation boxes at her high school, and her principal, Noreen Lazariuk, helped her spread the word about the coat drive. “I believe that one of the most valuable skills we can give to our students is the awareness of their place in a larger community and the fulfillment they will experience when giving to those in need,” Lazariuk said.
MaryRose gathers coats for the poor for the winter, but she’s also busy helping others every other season as well. She volunteers for the Special Olympics as a “hugger,” greeting the finishers at track and field events, and she speaks out about juvenile arthritis, a condition from which she suffers. Last year, she was chosen to represent the cause in meetings with senators and representatives in Washington D.C., advocating for increased funds for research and lower medication prices. MaryRose plans to study nursing in college, and she wants to specialize in pediatric rheumatology to help others suffering from juvenile arthritis.
Regardless of where she decides to go to school, we’re sure that MaryRose will continue to make a difference in her community.