“You can always give back. You just have to have a big heart.”
Such is the philosophy of Aaliyah Rucker, a sixth grader at Garrett Middle School who also happens to be the founder and CEO of A Touch of Warmth, a non-profit organization that collects and distributes blankets for homeless members of the community.
Rucker and A Touch of Warmth kicked off their third annual blanket drive this week, hoping to collect more than 2,000 blankets in the month of December. But Rucker says the vision for her charity began while cleaning out her closet at four years old.
“My mom was cleaning out my closet and looking to give some things away,” she said. “And like any four year old, I wanted to keep everything for myself. But then I realized there are some people who have a lot less than I do and would love to have some of the stuff in that closet. I figured that people without houses or something to comfort them should know that people do care about them”
Thus began Rucker’s commitment to community service. Since 2007, A Touch of Warmth has collected and distributed more than 5,000 blankets to homeless shelters and individuals on the streets around Cobb County, Atlanta and even as far as Rome, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Florida. Rucker, her mother and aunt manage the organization, from fundraising, to distribution and outreach.
In 2012, Rucker traveled to Adairsville to aid the victims of the devastating tornado that struck the area.
Rachel Ramsey, one of Rucker’s teachers at Garrett says that Rucker’s charity is just another example of her passion for service.
“In class, she’s always the first one to help out, she’s always the first one to volunteer if I or any other student needs something,” she said. “And to think she’s gone out of her way to create this great organization. When I was in sixth grade, those thoughts didn’t enter my mind. She’s wise beyond her years.”
Rucker says she hopes to continue conducting blanket drives and using A Touch of Warmth as a means of helping those less fortunate in her community and beyond.
“There will always be people who have less than you do. But there is no greater feeling than helping someone in need.”