What began as fulfilling a school requirement has now become a service initiative for Charlotte Catholic High School sophomore Laura Rose.
All CCHS students are required to do community service, so Rose, 16, volunteered during the summer at Lydia's Loft, which provides new and gently used clothing, shoes and household items free of charge to needy residents of north Mecklenburg and south Iredell counties.
As she worked to fulfill her required 20 hours of community service, Rose helped unpack boxes, hang clothes and assist shoppers in need. She noticed that towel sets were a particularly critical need.
Rose thinks the "simple necessity in life" of towels often gets overlooked, because people don't think about donating them. They presume people have towels and tend to focus more on clothing or bedding donations.
Rose's mother, Carol, who also volunteers with Lydia's Loft, said that because so few towel sets are donated, it "doesn't take long to deplete" the towel supply.
In fact, families are permitted only one new towel set per year.
The Rose family, inspired by their daughter's initiative, would like to see that change and are now collecting new and gently used towel sets for Lydia's Loft.
Rose said that people assume Lydia's Loft is just for clothes, but it's really "so much more than that."
Seeing people in need compelled Rose to continue her service with Lydia's Loft even after the summer ended.
"I feel like I really need to help them," she said of the people that Lydia's Loft serves.
The Roses have worked with the Allen Tate real estate office in Cornelius to get a collection box for towel donations set up in its office, and Carol Rose is now talking with Aquesta Bank to see about setting up a collection box there in the new year.
The Rose family is also available to pickup donations. To date, Rose has collected about 20 sets of towels and is enthusiastic about generating even more community interest and seeing that number skyrocket. Her mother is proud of her daughter's compassion for others and willingness to get involved to make a difference.
"She's [Laura] starting to understand how to give back...seeing that that foundation is starting to take hold is what it's all about," Carol said.