A class assignment led a young Norwin School District girl to tackle the issue of homelessness in her own backyard, demonstrating how even the youngest among us can help make a difference.

Addison Readel, an 8-year-old, third-grade student at Sheridan Terrace Elementary School, turned her idea into action with the help of her mother, other family members and friends.

She dubbed her project “Hope for the Homeless.”

And on Dec. 18, she plans to help deliver a bounty of holiday gifts to Greensburg’s Welcome Home Shelter.

On Dec. 14, the Readels’ North Huntingdon home was transformed into Santa’s workshop.

Children donned festive stocking caps and moved station to station, trick-or-treat style, as adults tossed socks, razors, soap, deodorant and toothbrushes into 125 donated cinch bags.

Those bags will be provided to men who visit the shelter, along with its residents, says her mother, Laura Readel.

The family’s living room held stacks of gifts, from coffee makers and pots and pans for adults, to toys, books and cold weather wear for children, tagged by recipient and ready for gift wrap and bows.

The Readel family, including Addison’s brother, Quinn, 4, and father, Charles, recently saw a family by the side of the road in Allegheny County, holding a sign reading “Fell on hard times.”

“That was very upsetting,” Laura Readel says.

They went to a nearby store and purchased some groceries, but when they returned the family was gone.

“That’s when the conversation started,” she says.

Amy Guzik, Addison’s teacher, explained that the idea behind the social studies assignment was to inspire the students to consider ways they could make a difference in their communities.

“There were many great ideas that were presented though this assignment, including Addison’s,” Guzik says. “She has such a genuine character and desire to help others, which makes her project even more special.”

Addison asked her mother if they could bring her idea of making gift boxes for homeless people to reality.

“Within a week she’d titled it ‘Hope for the Homeless,’ had a donation box in Giant Eagle in North Huntingdon and marketed the program with me on the All About the Norwin Area Facebook site and our (business) website, fitkidsfactory.com,” Readel says.

The box at Giant Eagle filled so quickly the family made multiple trips per day to pick up donations, Charles Readel says.

Boots, coats, toys and gift cards were collected for the families and children now staying at the shelter.

“Somebody left a bike on our porch,” Addison says, grinning.

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