Participants in the Cherry Avenue Club’s SMART Girls, a program for teen girls, are selling hot chocolate and cookies every Wednesday through December 18th to purchase winter clothing that will be donated to The Haven. The Haven is a multi-resource day shelter in downtown Charlottesville helping those in the community seeking stable housing.

Getting into the holiday spirit, SMART Girls collectively organized the community service project to help those experiencing homelessness as winter weather nears. The girls were responsible for advertising, budgeting, assigning booth responsibilities, and positively engaging with customers.
“Some of [those experiencing homelessness] don’t have what they need, and we want them to be safe and comfortable,” explains Braelyn, a 12-year-old SMART Girls participant, on the inspiration behind the project.

Having raised $300 after a month of fundraising, the girls are excited to see their hard work pay off. Soon they will be shopping for warm socks, one of the most requested items among shelters.

Laila, also 12-years-old and in SMART Girls, has enjoyed preparing the hot chocolate and selling cookies. “It’s good to give back to the community.”
SMART Girls is a health, fitness, prevention/education, and self-esteem enhancement program for girls ages 8 to 17, designed to promote healthy attitudes and lifestyles that will enable early adolescent girls to develop to their full potential. Female staff and mentors lead weekly small-groups focused on addressing the developmental needs of girls and helping girls make good decisions about their health and bodies, such as preventative care and confidence in seeking relationships with medical professionals. Two-hundred members participate in SMART Girls across the six Clubs.

BGCCVA’s health and life skills programs focus on developing young people’s capacity to engage in positive behaviors that nurture their own well-being, set personal goals, and live successfully as self-sufficient adults. In addition to SMART Girls, other health and life skills programs include SMART Moves, Passport to Manhood, Triple Play, Healthy Habits, and Positive Action.