Cali Vancleve started Project Selflessness, which has conducted several good deed projects, ranging from feeding the homeless to random acts of kindness at West Wilson Middle School.
Vancleve said she got the idea to start feeding the homeless and provide them with necessary toiletries after a trip to downtown Nashville with her mother. She and some of her friends started visiting downtown one Saturday a month to deliver food and toiletries to the homeless.
“It was amazing because I had so much feedback from my peers saying, ‘I feel so good. It’s heartbreaking to see all these people.’ We can help. We can make a difference. It’s not just one person. If we work together we can change someone’s life,” said Vancleve, who said she hopes the efforts have a ripple effect.
The acts of kindness have also taken over the school, according to Vancleve’s teacher, Amy Wilken.
Wilken, said she discovered Vancleve’s good deed after an assignment early in the school year. She said she wanted to learn more about her students and sent them home with a parent homework assignment, which required parents to discuss their children.
“After I heard the story, I thought ‘Wow. If this kid can do this, I need to do more myself. That’s when I asked Cali if she wanted to make this into a school club,” Wilken said.
The club started in December and now has 35 new members. The group has collected more than 500 items for homeless and those in need, including students and adults who may suffer from hunger when they leave to school to those who forget to bring their own food.
The group and other students also cover the school in positive postage notes and promote random acts of kindness.
“There are just random acts of kindness happening all the time. I hear kids telling other kids to be kind, and I feel the love. I think it’s making a huge impact on our school. I think it’s going to make a huge impact on our community,” Wilken said.
“When you hear stories and see youngsters who have taken it upon themselves to do things adults should be doing and going forward with it, it makes you feel our future is going to be OK, because you have people like Cali and those who think the same, joining hands and helping others,” Wilson County Director of Schools Donna Wright said.
Vancleve said her goal is to be a social worker, but also wants to make Project Selflessness a nonprofit organization.
“These kids are goal-oriented, and just always looking for the next big thing to help our community,” Wilken said.