Iowa High Schoolers Start Business to Help Homeless

POLK CITY, Iowa  --  Young entrepreneurs from Polk City are turning simple construction materials into Christmas ornaments.

Christmas music is already playing in Noah Willie's workshop, where a team of four North Polk High School students are busy turning paint stirrers into ornaments.

“The Christmas ornaments we sell are to help the homeless. So we make some care packages this year, we're looking at 500. They've got razors, shaving cream, toothbrushes, toothpaste, socks, and a bunch of stuff. We really just want to help as many people as possible," said Willie.

With the money made from selling the ornaments, Ornaments for Outreach will deliver packages to DMARC food pantries during the Christmas season.

“We know a lot of people in the Des Moines area can’t have a Christmas, so we want to give them that opportunity," Willie said.

Numbers back Willie up. According to DMARC’s 2016 annual report, 16,000 to 18,000 people were served during November and December compared to just over 14,000 in July. The holiday months are busier.

“I think that is going to be really cool to see the people that the care packages are being delivered to," Willie said.

Willie, along with other Polk City High School students, sought donations from local businesses, but Willie said it was hard for some businesses to look past the students' age to see the end goal.

“I know when we approached some departments stores they didn't really trust us as much even though we are trying to help the community, but I get it, we are younger, we don’t have as good of a rap as an adult, " Willie said.

The teens overcame adversity and have already nearly reached their goal of making 500 ornaments. So far, Ornaments for Outreach has made just over $100 but want to sell enough ornaments to earn $700, which will make 500 care packages. Click here to support their cause.