Emily Meffert (11), a vocal major at YPAS, is using her voice for more than just singing – she is using it to advocate for those who cannot speak for themselves. Through her membership in Key Club, Meffert has been involved in many community service projects in Louisville itself; however, since becoming Key Club Lieutenant Governor of the Kentucky-Tennessee region, she has also become involved on a worldwide scale.
Garrett Holt (12), Regional Governor of the Key Club and a Tennessee resident, got Meffert involved in a cause Key Club advocates called Threads of Hope, whose goal is to change the lives of numerous families in the impoverished Manila Philippines. “I witnessed [Holt’s] passion to help support those struggling families and their communities in the Phillipines, and immediately I wanted to to take part in helping them by selling bracelets,” Meffert said.
Threads of Hope is an organization created by Christian missionaries Alex and Chris Kuhlow, a married couple who live in the Philippines. For many of the natives of the islands, the only source of income is making and selling homemade items like friendship bracelets and baskets to visiting tourists. This target audience is small and usually uninterested in the authentic wares, and the natives of the Philippines don’t have the resources to sell the product to a wider group. Therefore, they have to sell their products for painfully low prices, barely earning any profit at all, even though they work hours and hours every day to get by on what they can.
The Kuhlows, inspired by the hard work and determination of the people of the Philippines, decided they ought to help. They enlisted hundreds of people across the United States to help them.
Meffert is a volunteer for Threads of Hope. Her job as volunteer is to sell friendship bracelets from the Philippines to as many people as possible for a dollar apiece. Though the price is low, the bracelets would normally sell for much less. The organization hopes to make the United States the “wider audience” for the natives of the Philippines and provide them with fair wages.
Many Manual students, including Megan Bath (11) and Sara Assef (11), have bought bracelets and were enthusiastic about the look of the bracelets as well as the cause they were supporting. “My friend Katelyn Meng told me about them, and I thought that they were cute,” Bath said. “It was even better that it was going towards a good cause!”
“When people first see me selling these, they think it’s just a pretty bracelet,” Meffert said. “But once I explain it to them, its really cool too see how excited people get, and how they really care about what their money is supporting.”
All of the money received from the bracelets is given to the workers, to “help meet the physical, educational and spiritual needs of the communities where the products are made,” according to the Threads of Hope website.
Students interested in buying a bracelet can contact Emily Meffert at [email protected] for more information.
Eliza Coleman is a 16-year-old junior at duPont Manual High School, studying in the HSU magnet. She is a staff writer for ManualRedEye.com.