Students give back with HeART for charity


Head of HeART for Charity, Katherine Andrews, helps out at the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

HeART for Charity, an organization that provides original artwork to donate to children and seniors, has sent ripples across Atlanta.

Started by sophomore Katherine Andrews during the COVID-19 pandemic, HeART began with donations of art to assisted-living centers for seniors and has now expanded to children’s hospitals and large-scale donations. Recently, HeART was able to print a coloring book of compiled artworks to give, free of charge, to children’s hospitals.

“In light of the pandemic in 2020, Cathedral Towers, an affordable housing community, reached out, asking for art made by kids,” said Andrews. “And that inspired me to reach out to Westminster and ask primarily middle schoolers for all types of handmade art.” 

Andrews’s dual passions for art and community service were also inspired by and dedicated to someone very close to her. Her cousin Stella, who was diagnosed with cancer last year, was an artist who loved to draw and paint. 

“My cousin’s diagnosis inspired me to try to branch out and share the love of art with other people in need,” said Andrews. 

Andrews’ passion for helping those in need is shared by her classmates, who often volunteer with her or help her with HeART projects.

“It really bonds you together as a community and makes you feel like you’re helping someone,” said sophomore Grayson Giguere. “I love it because it is a great environment that allows you to paint with friends.”

“I think it’s great when you can put it towards a good cause because it’s such a good feeling,” said sophomore Alexis McDonald.

Giguere and McDonald, along with several other sophomores, have participated in a series of HeART parties, which are get-togethers where the volunteers create art to donate.

Sophomore Dorothy Verner, who joined hands with Andrews as a co-leader of HeARt parties, highlighted the ease of getting together to create art.

“It’s so easy and doesn’t take up too much time,” said Verner. “It’s not stressful, so everyone can enjoy themselves and bond while at the same time doing something to help someone feel loved.”

Their efforts have paid off. Along with everyone else who participated in HeART, Andrews enjoyed seeing the positive impact and reactions the recipients had upon receiving art.

  “It was really nice to see my efforts manifest into real life rather than have to hear about it through third person,” said Andrews.“We were able to give the art to the recipients in person, and just seeing them happy and smiling made everything worth it.” 

 Creating HeART for Charity wasn’t without difficulties. The more technical side held multiple obstacles, such as trying to file as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. She also had to figure out ways to keep volunteers engaged.

“It’s not hard to find people in need, but it’s hard to keep kids inspired and volunteers willing to spend their time,” said Andrews.

With the help of Verner with HeART parties and Middle School civic engagement coordinator Hartley Glass, however, Andrews soon found help with finding inspired volunteers.

“The fact that it could expand from assisted-living facilities to hospitals with its broad appeal and the fact that it was easy for middle schoolers to join drew me to this project,” said Glass.

Once Andrews found the people, everything began to lock into place, and donations, as well as created pieces, started flowing in.

“We provide the supplies, and they [student ministries, youth groups, etc.] provide the time and talent,” said Andrews.

Through only two HeART parties, Andrews was able to give at least one piece of art to every resident in a retirement home.

“The seniors’ faces lit up when they got it,” recalled Verner.

Growth has been a prevailing theme throughout the past two years. Andrews started with senior homes and expanded to children’s hospitals and has even created a coloring book for children.

Andrews and her team have future plans for more editions of the coloring book, hoping that with expansion, the volumes can be sold for money to support donation funds. 

“I know she could help with the production cost of the books as an area of growth,” said Glass.  “She could sell the coloring books to take care of overhead fees and further support the creation process of them.”

Until then, Andrews is satisfied with how far she has come. The goal of bringing together a community with a shared passion has succeeded. 

“We just want to brighten the days of those who are in need or those who are struggling and to share the joy of creating art with other kids in the Westminster community,” said Andrews.