TAMPA, Fla. — Gabriella Gillen is only 15 years old but has already spent nearly a decade volunteering.
- Everyday Hero Gabriella Gillen a longtime volunteer
- Created TLC bedtime bags for children entering foster care
- Honored for her efforts by the Tampa Bay Lightning
And after years of helping a variety of groups she now has her own way of giving back to specific kids in need.
"I had the opportunity to deliver meals to elderly people and shut-ins," Gillen said. "And through that experience, I felt inspired to keep volunteering."
After years of volunteering (since age 6) and being an active girl scout, Gillen had an idea to help foster children arriving at new homes.
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Gillen came up with TLC bedtime bags.
The bags allow "children to call something their own when they're put in a really tough situation," Gillen said.
Containing pajamas, a toothbrush, toothpaste, children's books, a mini-sized pillow and socks, the bag can help kids get through their first night in a new place in foster care.
"And also make them feel loved."
With her years of volunteering and creating the bedtime bags, Gillen was honored by the Tampa Bay Lightning as a Community Hero of Tomorrow.
She was presented with her own Lightning jersey with the number 15 on the back for her 15th birthday. The team also presented her with $50,000 to go toward her education and to "A Kid's Place" rescuing abused, neglected and abandoned children.
Ever since I was little, my faith has taught me to forget myself," Gillen said, in explaining her charitable drive. "And serve others."