High School freshman Hunter Stuart has been focusing on being thankful as a healthy way to get through the trying times that the pandemic has brought on so many people.
Hunter decided he would adopt a new attitude of gratitude for all the things he is fortunate to have in his life.
Then, he turned that attitude into action.
First, the food pantry
Hunter was reading a recent edition of the weekly WVCSD Community e-Bulletin, when he saw a request for donations by the Warwick Ecumenical Food Pantry. That was the inspiration that sparked his volunteerism, and he set out to collaborate with the Warwick Fire Department and Edenville Deli to collect items for the food pantry.
“My dad is a member of the fire department, so I started the drive with about 140 emails to other members,” explained Hunter. “So, all of a sudden there were a lot of boxes on my front porch.”
One of those emails reached the owner of the Edenville Deli, which not only donated to Hunter’s cause, but also provided an additional drop-off point for people. Now, Hunter collects each item, inspects the best buy dates and stores them.
Within the first week of Hunter’s drive, he had collected 150-plus food and personal care items.
“We’re going to keep collect for the food pantry until March 30, then we’re going to categorize the donations, box them up, and deliver them right before Easter,” said Hunter. “We hope it will really help them stock their shelves for Easter.”
Sharing his passion for baseball
Hunter, who played modified baseball last year and is preparing for JV tryouts this spring, is passionate about baseball. When he initially contacted Beautiful People, an organization that provides adaptive sports opportunities for area children with disabilities, Hunter learned that they had to put the program on hold due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, but that didn’t stop him from finding another way to help out.
“I first learned about Beautiful People when I was in the Junior Honor Society last year,” said Hunter. “I felt like that would be a good place for me to help people out using my baseball knowledge because I want them to have as much fun with the game as I do.”
Hunter found out that the organization needed baseball and softball equipment, and immediately began coordinating with the travel team he plays for – the Northeast Pride – to collect equipment donations.
Day one of Hunter’s diamond drive scored 32 bats, 12 helmets, nine gloves, four bags, two tees, a complete catcher’s set and several uniform pants and shirts for Beautiful People.
Speaking of honors, Hunter has continued his success in the classroom this year as well, taking honors courses and even achieving near perfect marks in Global History. That’s the class that gets his vote for favorite this year, and Hunter says his teacher has a knack for presenting the stories and lessons of the past in ways that make him want to “soak it up like a sponge.” He also said that his long-term interests include engineering and the law.
“I like the idea of becoming a lawyer,” he said, and shared that he is looking forward to studying criminal justice next year.
Veterans Memorial Park
Once his food pantry and baseball drives wrap up at the end of the month, Hunter’s next volunteer project will be to help spruce up the monument in Veterans Memorial Park, something he does annually with the fire department.
“It’s cool to see it before, then clean it off, replace the plants, and then see how much better it looks with just a little bit of help,” said Hunter.
‘The ability to change’
Hunter’s attitude of gratitude has led him to realize that he finds happiness seeing the look on people’s faces when someone extends a helping hand, and that it’s all about taking more pleasure in giving than receiving.
“We all have the ability to change a person’s emotions,” he said. “Maybe someone’s having a rough day, but (you help them and) they totally forgot about what was happening before, and are able to just be happy. And, even if it’s just for a day or an hour, it’s happiness.”