Delaney Ferguson: Community Volunteer
The year 2020 definitely has been a challenging year to live in, yet it has brought out creative ideas and projects to help adapt. Delaney Ferguson, a 15-year-old Jenks High School sophomore, came up with a fundraising project to help not only the less fortunate, but also to help fill a void due to a pandemic canceling holidays that children look forward to all year. Delaney raised funds to help pass out pumpkins and pumpkin-carving kits to the community for some Halloween cheer.
TK: How did you come up with the idea for the pumpkin carving kits and who were they donated to?
Delaney: The idea came while working on another project. The Jenks Chapter of National Charity League had done a food drive for Labor Day, and I had volunteered to help pack bags for the families. The representative from the Jenks Community Food Bank wanted to do something special for the families they supported for Halloween and asked for ideas. It just clicked for me that it would be amazing to give the families the stuff needed to carve pumpkins. But the carving tools were something the food bank would have a hard time providing. I decided it was up to me to make sure the families had everything they would need to enjoy this holiday tradition. Especially in a year when Halloween activities might have been restricted for some families due to COVID.
TK: Where and how did you fundraise the funds?
Delaney: It was quite overwhelming when I sat down and figured how much money it would take to provide these pumpkin-carving kits. The carving tools themselves were $450, not to mention the pumpkins and other items needed. In total I figured I would need $700 for basic kits and $1200 for complete experience kits.
The National Charity League is a mother/daughter volunteering organization, and the Jenks chapter has a grant program the girls can apply for. A pumpkin-carving kit seemed like the perfect thing to do for the grant project. This gave us the seed money to start the project. We also circulated a flyer through social media asking for donations from members of the Jenks National Charity League and community.
The Reasor’s in Jenks let us do a food drive over fall break, and that was a big help. The community really came out and supported our efforts, and we were able to provide everything for the complete experience kits.
TK: What was in each kit?
Delaney: Each kit had everything needed for carving (5 tools, 5 templates, 2 LED candles with batteries) and everything needed for roasting pumpkin seeds (recipe, olive oil, Worcestershire sauce, seasoning salts, and sugar). And, of course, the pumpkin!
TK: What did you learn from this experience?
Delaney: I am definitely happy to have had the experience! I had to leave my comfort zone to take on a project this big. There was no one to bail me out if I failed. What I remember the most is standing in front of Reasor’s and having five seconds to ask each person to donate. We all got rejected a lot, but quickly learned to just keep going. I did not realize how much you can accomplish just by reaching out to your friends and community. And some people in the community stopped to tell us their story, why they were giving, which made it special.
TK: What advice do you have for others who would like to give back to the community?
Delaney: I would say that if you have an idea then you should go for it. You would be surprised at all you can accomplish. I would also recommend pulling in your friends. There will be a lot of work to do, so it helps to find people you can rely on to help get through it.
TK: Where are your favorite places in Tulsa to volunteer?
Delaney: Before COVID, I liked to visit the residents of Montereau retirement home. It is fun to sit down with them and hear all their stories. I also found myself spending a lot of time volunteering at the Jenks Community Food Bank. I like going with my friends and spending time talking while we help organize the food in the back. COVID has made it hard to volunteer where we get to interact with people, but we still find ways.
TK: What other hobbies do you have?
Delaney: I like to run long distance. I am a sophomore on the Jenks Cross-Country team. I love to read! I do have to be careful when I am reading a good book, though, I have been known to forget to do my homework.
TK: What do you want to be when you grow up?
Delaney: I have not set my heart on one career yet. I do want to do something that helps people. I am thinking of going into something medical, like a nurse practitioner.
TK: Who inspires you?
Delaney: Lots of people are inspirational if you take the time to learn about them. There is this very nice woman I met while volunteering at Montereau. She is 101 years old, but she had a way of making everyone feel comfortable and happy. I want to be able to light up a room the way she does.
TK: What is a fun fact about you?
Delaney: I was rookie of the year on my cross-country team my freshman year.