When you think back to your elementary, middle and high school days, you can probably name numerous instances when you were asked to charitably give any extra pocket change, canned foods and toys you had laying around. These donation drives were typically organized by the school in partnership with a charity or charitable organization. This spring, Hicksville High School junior Anya Marquardt is changing the game by spearheading her own donation drive.
After losing her father at age 12, Marquardt found solace through participating in a bereavement group provided by Hospice Care Network (HCN). A division of Northwell Health, HCN is a nonprofit group and had provided care and comfort to Marquardt’s father in their home until his passing. Grief over a loved one is never easy, but it was a little more bearable for Marquardt when she was given a creative outlet.
“We did a lot of arts and crafts, a lot of creative writing and I had developed a lot of anxiety after my dad died. [The art and writing] really helped me to cope,” said Marquardt, who was also provided the comfort of grief counselors. “[HCN helps] hundreds of families per year and they help so many kids. I’ve met so many kids who have been helped by them and I really wanted to give back.”
Marquardt began planning things out in January, submitted her proposal to her school principal and the drive was officially set in motion on April 10. Now, boxes are spread across Hicksville High School’s classrooms collecting art supplies like crayons, markers, construction paper and composition notebooks.
“I really want to collect as much as possible for [HCN] because they are nonprofit. They use money out of their own pocket and it adds up because they have hundreds of kids and art supplies are a little expensive,” Marquardt said. “From what I’ve seen right now, there’s a lot of interest in [the drive]. Now that we have the boxes in so many different places, I’m hoping that we’re going to get a lot of donations.”
Outside of her school, Marquardt has been working tirelessly to promote her cause. She reached out to her elementary school, Hicksville Middle School, a dance studio she used to go to and is currently working to have a box placed in Holy Family Church. Her mom has also been working to spread the word, posting on Facebook’s Hicksville Moms group and encouraging friends and family to take a box into their workplace.
“My mom is the most amazing and inspirational person I’ve ever met. She’s kind of the reason I’ve been able to go forward with this, she’s helped so much,” Marquardt said. “She’s just always been there for me. My family has been helping out a lot and it’s great to have that type of support for this project because it’s so big.”
While she’s grateful to her family and friends for their support, Marquardt can’t help but think of her dad as she works on her donation drive.
“He always wanted me to get involved in the community,” she said. “I thought, ‘You know what, these people did a service for my father, these people did a service for me,’ and it just feels right to give back. Just giving them the supplies that they need to help other people is really the biggest thing that matters here.”
To donate supplies, contact Marquardt at 516-477-9105. Her mother, Nicole, is also available to contact at 516-732-5478.