Giving with Grace: Las Animas High School freshman bringing joy with get-well-card nonprofit
She may be only 14, but Las Animas High School freshman Grace Gardner is already venturing into the business world.
She founded a nonprofit organization called Giving with Grace that sends get-well cards to patients in hospitals all across the country.
The enterprise started with an excess of cards that her mother had.
"One day my mom just came to me and said that we had a lot of extra get-well-soon cards, and she asked me and my sister if we could think of anyone we can give them to," Gardner said. "So I thought of all of the people who were in hospitals right now due to COVID restrictions and couldn't have visitors.
"I wrote on the 17 get-well soon cards and sent them off to a hospital where my aunt works as an RN. She passed them out, and that just started my product."
What started as a gift from her mom has turned into a community drive for the get-well cards.
Gardner said she gets her cards from the Las Animas community.
"I get cards from people all around the community," Gardner said. "I also buy cards wherever I can find them, like Amazon and local stores in town."
Now with a full-blown operation on her hands, Gardner is always on the lookout for extra cards.
The freshman said anybody can donate cards to her.
"I always put my return address, and I put some return labels in there," Gardner said. "I also have a stamp that I put my return address in each of the cards. I'm always taking extra cards."
Finding new hospitals to ship cards to might be a tough task but isn't with the help of Google.
"I google a list of hospitals and just start cold-calling people until I can reach someone who says I can send cards to their hospital."
Giving with Grace also has its own website, givingwithgrace.net, which has expanded her potential reach beyond the borders of the United States.
Gardner will also send out cards that were made by Las Animas Elementary School students.
"I'm going to be having my own cards that were designed by elementary school students," Gardner said. "So people will be able to buy cards. For every card that is sold, there will be a card that goes to a patient in a hospital somewhere in the country."
Gardner will make some money from the cards to be put back into the business.
"The money that I make will go towards sending more cards to patients in hospitals all over the country and paying for postage," Gardner said.
Gardner had set a goal of sending cards to every state — a goal she has since surpassed three times over.
"I have now sent three packages of cards to three hospitals in each state," Gardner said.
When Gardner is not preoccupied with her business, she keeps quite busy with several activities.
"I swim for Arkansas Valley and I play volleyball and basketball for Las Animas," Gardner said. "I am secretary for student council. I'm a member of FBLA. I'm the student adviser for travel club and and a student adviser for Las Animas City Council. I keep very busy."
Tribune-Democrat reporter Ken Hamrick can be reached by email atKHamrick1@gannett.com.