by Shelby Durden
Jacksonville University Intern
Whether it be delivering books to children in need around the world or in our city, Katie Hecht has opened the doors of imagination for countless children, allowing them to travel to places unknown and to live a life outside their own if only on the pages of the books they receive through her global initiative, Words On Wings. Katie was born into a home with drug addicted parents and she experienced firsthand, homelessness, abandonment, hunger and being bounced around in foster homes. But she has never let her past hold her back! She was adopted at the age of 5 and she has used her past instead as a means for helping others in need.
Katie has been an avid volunteer since the age of 5. Her family also has a long history of volunteer efforts and her mother, Joan Hecht started the foundation-Alliance for the Lost Boys of Sudan. Katie has put in hundreds of hours of service with the Alliance, but not because it was required of her, but rather, because she has a personal passion for helping others. That passion has led her to form two volunteer/charity initiatives of her very own
In fifth grade, she initiated “Katie Kares,” writing a call to action and enlisting the help of fellow classmates to collect and deliver over 250 toiletry items and blankets to a local homeless shelter.
Katie is also a national award winning writer and she uses her words to bring awareness to important topics like hunger, children’s rights and genocide. In 2013, her love of words and her desire for helping others led her to create a global initiative called “Words On Wings,” to help promote literacy to children in need. She has collected and distributed over $7500 in books written in Spanish and English. Katie feels strongly that every kid should have a new or gently used book of their very own. The excited looks on the faces of children receiving their very first book ever, validates her conviction. So far, Words On Wings has taken flight to four countries, landing at an orphanage in Peru, a rural library in Mexico, a summer reading program in Jamaica and the homes of many children in Jacksonville. This year, Words On Wings was incorporated as club at her school in an effort to ensure that even more children can experience the thrill of reading.
Katie has logged well over 500 volunteer hours through the Alliance and other volunteer efforts in our city, including serving food and assisting with various projects at local homeless shelters. She has participated in mission trips abroad in Jamaica and Peru and for two years, she served as Secretary for the Jacksonville Youth Council. Katie currently serves as a selected member of Mayor Curry’s Young Leaders Advisory Council and served previously on Mayor Brown’s Young Leaders Advisory Council; helping to improve the lives of other youth in our community.
Katie Hecht may be young, but she has already impacted many people’s lives. With her passion for volunteering, there is no limit to the amount of good that Katie will do in her life time!
Katie is the recipient of the 2016 HandsOn Literacy Award. Join Katie and other volunteers who are making a difference in our community at Celebrate GOOD on April 17, 2016 from 2-6 at Friendship Fountain. Register for FREE admission at celebrategood.org