PARIS, Ill. (WCIA) — Brenda Wright can’t stop helping and doesn’t get a lot of sleep. You might find her knitting away at 3 a.m. for the Paris Hat Project. Her team gives out a thousand hats a year and every student gets one.
“It’s not just making the hats,” she said. “It’s watching them light up and when they find that special hat, it gives you goosebumps. They are in love with that hat.”
But it’s kids and people in Haiti who changed Wright’s life. For the past five years now, she’s gone to the country to build homes.
“I am just someone who always wants to have a purpose.”
Those mission trips put her on a new path to take care of the basic needs of children in Paris. Like when a principal told her some kids weren’t getting a hot lunch because of lunch debt.
“I said here’s a check. Let’s get an account set up,” she remembered. “There’s no child in this school that will have a sandwich instead of a hot lunch and that has continued for the last umpteen years.”
That commitment to children doesn’t stop. During the summer, Wright goes to the On the Tracks cafe five days a week, to pick up food and deliver breakfast to children in need. She also found a soft spot for homeless teenagers like Megan Linnabary. She and her son Gunner didn’t have anywhere to go after a breakup. She felt like she was alone. But Wright helped find her a bed, a highchair, and a pack-in-play once she found space at her sister’s house.
Linnabary said, “I didn’t even know this woman and she had stepped up and helped us when I needed it the most.”
“The number of children who are homeless breaks my heart,” Wright said. “I don’t know how you can’t be affected knowing these children are raising themselves and they don’t have a roof over their head.”
She also wants to keep them and adults healthy. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure our little town isn’t overwhelmed and our hospital isn’t overwhelmed.”
When the pandemic started, she had team together in days to make masks. They made about 1600 of them in about six weeks. She gained a sore back.
“I thought I was going to have to go to a chiropractor. I’ve never sat at a sewing machine so long in my life. I don’t sit still very long anyway so to just sit and sew and sew and sew.”
But it didn’t matter. She powered through because Brenda Wright can not stop helping.
“If I know something needs to be done, I’m going to go gung-ho and if I have to get 15 people to join me to do it, I’m going to do it.”