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FRANKLIN - Students a part of Franklin Youth Initiative (FYI) tied together charity and their anti-tobacco mission during Random Acts of Kindness Week in February, creating fleece tie blankets for children living at a homeless shelter.

The group hand delivered 15 blankets to the Hope House in Milwaukee, one for every child living in the house.

Each blanket also had a note attached, imploring its owner to avoid tobacco use and warning him or her about the dangers of using the drug.

FYI member Oliva Banach believes that this message will resonate with the kids at the Hope House.

"Peer-to-peer advocacy is important when promoting healthy lifestyle choices, like avoiding tobacco," Banach said. "We read an article that said tobacco use among people who are homeless is at least 70 percent. Once someone starts using tobacco, it is very difficult to quit. By reaching our peers early, and educating them about why tobacco is so dangerous, we hope they make the choice to never use tobacco in their future."

The Hope House was very thankful for their donation, sending their group a handwritten letter and posting a public thank-you on Facebook, specifically noting the "wonderful prints" and "healthy message."

In total, 19 students helped make the blankets during the group's monthly meetings leading up to Random Acts of Kindness Week.

"Working with my fellow peers to do something that will help other teens who are homeless feels amazing," said sophomore FYI member Shreya Jain.

When the students delivered their creations, they also took a tour of the Hope House. Unable to meet those they were directly helping due to confidentiality agreements, the students still got to see how the Hope House was helping their residents by helping them find jobs, keeping them fed through the food pantry, and providing services for children.

This is the first time FYI has done a project of this kind, as they are mostly focused on tobacco prevention within the Franklin community, but Banach says they are likely to do this again.

"This activity was very popular among members our group and we do hope to do this, or something similar again next year," she said.

This service project was a part of FYI's FACT group, who "aims to spread the truth about tobacco through positive messaging and actions in the community."

FYI is a student advocacy group focused on promoting healthy lifestyle choices, composed of students in seventh through 12th grade.

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