Teen helps cancer patients.
Anthony's inspiration was to raise money to purchase and distribute hats to the patients free of charge. "I wanted to do something. I wanted to have hats that they could pick out and wear," Anthony told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.
He started by contacting potential donors by e-mail and creating flyers to make his community aware of his project. He convinced local business owners to allow him to place collection boxes in their stores. When he had accumulated enough money to get started, he began contacting companies that sold and manufactured hats, to get their input. Wisconsin-based S.C. Johnson Company supplied custom-designed plastic bags to keep the hats clean and dry during delivery.
Anthony called his project Heavenly Hats. Once word got around his part of Wisconsin, donations started coming in. He bagged and distributed the hats himself, and still does. A major supporter has been the National Football League, which has supplied Anthony with large quantities of Green Bay Packer hats--understandably a popular item in northeastern Wisconsin!
In 2003, Anthony was inducted into the Hall of Fame for Caring Americans by the Caring Institute, which gives the honor annually to the most caring individuals in the nation. That year, he also received the presidential Student Service Award.
In 2004, CNN interviewed Anthony for its program, "America's Bright Future." The exposure resulted in an outpouring of support for Heavenly Hats from viewers across the nation. Afterward, Anthony told his local news station, WBAY in Green Bay: "I think it will always be a big thing getting the word out because it seems like every time I get the word out I get more and more donations to come in."
In an interview with ABC News, Anthony's mother, Deann Leanna, said her son works on the project year-round: "During the school year he puts in about 15 hours a week. During summer, close to 30 hours." Anthony's father, Glen Leanna, who began a fight against cancer after his son started the program, said: "What has really been shown is that anyone out there can get up and make a difference and do something."
The ABC report noted that Heavenly Hats has delivered more than 60,000 hats to hospitals over the last four years, receiving help from many volunteers, in addition to Anthony's friends and family.
Anthony has collected awards almost as regularly as he has collected and distributed hats. Just this past June, he was named the winner of the Good Morning America Real Life Hero Contest.
This story is always continuing. A recent story about Anthony from WBAY News in Green Bay reported about a do nation of hundreds of brand-new caps to Heavenly Hats from ASPIRO, a Green Bay-area non-profit charity. And Anthony, now 14, is sounding more and more like the mature and experienced charitable foundation leader he has become. He commented about this latest donation: "I think it shows the strength of the Green Bay community and its eagerness to help those who need us."
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|Title Annotation:||THE GOODNESS OF AMERICA; Heavenly Hats|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Aug 8, 2005|
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