Serving the Community: Through Differences Big and Small

Delivering flowers to the VFD.

When I was around nine years old, I was introduced to the non-profit organization SEARCH Homeless. During this defining moment, I entered a new world, one where philanthropy and community service became an integral part of my life. I dipped my toes into this new experience through the Mom-and-Pop Shoppe at House of Tiny Treasures (HTT), a preschool funded by SEARCH, during the Christmas season in 2016. Organizing a shop for kids my age to get gifts, assisting in wrapping them, and helping to pick them out was such a fulfilling epiphany. A feeling in my heart - one that fluttered, and felt warm and familiar began to flourish within me. Ever since that Mom-and-Pop Shoppe, I have continued to volunteer at SEARCH’s events at the HTT preschool. But during the height of the pandemic in 2020, there was a shift, I could no longer participate in this community through events for Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. During my time away, I worked on projects like graduation frames and other donations and goodies. But, something in me craved to do more. 

After the passing of COVID, in my freshman year of high school, I knew this community had to be shared with my friends and school. So, I founded the Duchesne Academy chapter of Power-Up for HTT, a community where multiple Houston schools, like Awty International School and St. Agnes Academy, bring awareness to the homeless problem in our area by providing anything we can for the children at HTT. That year, I gathered my friends and classmates to donate to HTT, as well as put together Valentine’s Day and Easter-themed baskets filled with goodies for the kids. 

Last year, in my sophomore year, I hosted four meetings for my Power-Up for HTT club. We put together Thanksgiving rings, Christmas cards, summer cards, and graduation frames for the kids at HTT. Even so, I wanted to do something that would impact people of all ages so I hosted an all-school drive at Duchesne. Items including gloves, scarves, hats, stockings, and socks were donated generously by my school community. The upper school girls and their lower school chapel buddies then joined together to put one of each donated item into a stocking. All 300 stockings were then dropped off at New Hope Harrisburg House as well as the wonderful families at SEARCH Homeless. This opportunity made me feel so grateful and opened my eyes further on the homelessness problem in our greater Houston area. But it also further showed me how generous our community is when presented with information on how to help. 

This passion to help that foster only began to grow. I became actively involved in a non-profit organization called Petal Power. Alongside my mother, and a group of other mothers and their daughters, we began to get flowers from banquets, weddings, galas, almost anything, and we dropped off the blushing bouquets to charitable organizations like the Ronald McDonald Foundation, Temenos Housing Apartments, Senior Living Centers, SEARCH Homeless, and so much more. The difference something as small as flowers make on the less fortunate in the community was and continues to be a beautiful sight to see. I was honored to have been appointed to be Co-President and an executive board member of Petal Power. I was also in charge of Social Media and Marketing for Petal Power, where I managed the organization’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, creating posts and captions for our beloved pick-ups and drop-offs. 

One of my most essential pieces of advice on how to get involved in community service is to just start because you never know where things may go. I remember during the pandemic, being so anxious as to what I could do for the community when we were all so isolated and far away. For me, being active in the community is beyond just adding something to my resume. I knew I had to be engaged and committed and bring others to the causes if we were to incite real change in our communities! Seeing people act so selflessly and integrating this value into their daily lives strengthens the value of community service for me. So, whether young or old, I encourage you to become part of the community in any way. It does not have to be through a club, that next “big” position, or spending countless hours at a non-profit, while all these things are of course amazing things to do! Serving can be through volunteering at the Belong kitchen, donating clothes to loved ones or shelters, or even sharing a slice of pizza with your best friend. Whatever you do, do it selflessly, and know that no action is too small to make a difference. It all begins with one idea! 
Follow Petal Power on Instagram: @petalpowerhtx 
Follow Petal Power on Facebook: @Petal Power 
Check out SEARCH Homeless:  

Outside of volunteering, Addie Dutt (16) enjoys writing. She is president of the Creative Writers Society at Duchesne and a staff writer for the Duchense Newsletter. Last year she won a silver key for the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for a personal essay. This year, she was selected to be a published author with a short story on Sports and Athleticism through the non-profit organization IWRITE. She was Co-Chair of the 2021 Women's Fund Rockin' Resiliency Luncheon and Host Committee member of the 2023 iWrite Book Signing and Gala.