Link: Suzy Project Org
A week after the Sandy Hook school shooting, Andrew Turner was in line at the Rossmoor Starbucks feeling terrible about “the future of human good,” as the 16-year-old remembers it, when a woman approached him with a gift.
“She said ‘hi, my name is Suzy, and this is for you.’ She hands me a $20 dollar bill,” Turner recalled. “What’s going through my mind at that moment is OK, did I drop this? Did I lose this?”
Andrew Turner, 16, of Rossmoor started Project Suzy after he received 20 from a stranger named Suzy in December 2012. This year, Turner decided to repay the Suzy's gesture by giving away care packages containing bus passes and gift cards to people at OCTA bus stops located in low-income communities.
Turner assembled hand-made care packages with the help of volunteers and money donated by friends and friends of friends.
Each comes with this note: "Dear Friend, Happy Holidays! This care package was made especially for you. We care about you and hope that this brings you joy! Love, Your Friends at the Suzy Project." The packages also have:
What's in the box:
• $20 gift card for Northgate Gonzalez Markets.
• $10 gift card for McDonald's.
• A 5-ride OCTA bus pass.
• A $1 California lottery scratcher.
To get involved, visit suzyproject.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Andrew Turner
It was free money, no strings attached. Suzy said the Lord told her to give him the bill and wished him a Merry Christmas. She walked out of the Starbucks, and Turner never heard from her again, he said.
Today, 364 days after this random act of kindness, Turner will seek to spread the same kind of holiday cheer by giving out 83 homemade care packages at stops along the lowest income bus routes in the Orange County Transportation Authority lines.
The packages contain gift cards, a bus pass and a lottery ticket, bought with $3,240 in donations from friends, family and fellow parishioners at St. Hedwig’s Church in Los Alamitos for this very grassroots effort that he calls the Suzy Project, Turner said.
“That was an amazing experience and I want to be able to share the power of a random act of kindness,” said the Los Alamitos High School junior.
Turner doesn’t want to reveal where he’ll be on Saturday, only that he and his four volunteers – friends from school or church – will find bus stops on those routes where the care packages can make an impact on people’s lives.
He chose to target the bus routes instead of Starbucks, he said, because he feels that is the way he can help the poor and overlooked, especially in Orange County.
“You forget the places where there’s a lot of people who are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.
Suzy was like a messenger to Turner, said Renate Goutier, a mentor and St. Hedwig’s director of family life ministries. He was so enthusiastic about the Suzy Project that Goutier became one of his first donors.
“That encounter made a big impact on him, she said. “Andrew truly realizes the blessings in his life so he just wanted to continue giving, that to him that was the message.”
Turner doesn’t remember much about Suzy – the brief interaction is a blur, he said – and his small effort to hear back from her went unanswered. A family member joked she was an angel but “I’m not so sure about that,” Turner said.
An attentive kid with a passion for thrift store trinkets, Turner said his faith is one of the biggest parts of his life and he tries to embody the ethic of Pope Francis since the pontiff was elected in March.
“I’m really excited as a Catholic about how he’s revolutionizing the Catholic Church,” he said.
The two share a love of St. Francis of Assisi, for his humility and dedication to the poor; Turner took Francis as his patron saint at communion.
And both are now associated with public transportation. Before becoming Pope, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was reportedly a frequent rider of Buenos Aires’s public buses, something Turner was aware of, though it didn’t directly inspire the Suzy Project.
The Suzy Project isn’t a heavy-duty project yet – there’s no real adult supervision, much less a 501(c)3 designation with the IRS – though he hopes to register as a non-profit if his first foray into randomized gift giving works out.
“We’ve helped him probably just supporting him and his idea,” said Turner’s mother, Alicia Turner. “I mean, I help him buy cookies, we’ve helped him with contacts.”
She said she was particularly impressed by a powerpoint presentation he gave to some potential supporters at a local meeting hall.
“This whole presentation was incredibly professional. He’s done all of that himself. We haven’t helped him with any of that stuff,” his mother said.
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There you have it. Believe or not. You be the judge.
EYE ON THE BARRIO HOOD
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Link: Suzy Project Org