GILBERT, AZ — A Gilbert teen is being recognized for his work during the pandemic.
“So the first step, is you fold each of these sides diagonally,” says Charles Zhang,
Charles Zhang has made more than 1,500 Origami cranes over the past year. Families were able to write messages on them and then send them on their way.
“...has really allowed families to connect with their loved ones,” says Zhang.
The messages have reached patients at Hospice of the Valley, a place where Charles volunteered regularly before the pandemic. With in-person visitation stopping, his mission was to keep the communication between families going. Charles says the Wishing Crane Project was an idea inspired by a book.
“One origami paper crane represents good luck and happiness but if you create 1,000 origami paper cranes, you make a wish come true and you are also instilling good luck and happiness into the community,” says Zhang.
Charles also received some help from two other friends wanting to be part of the impact. It’s an impact that is being recognized for going beyond just that one act of kindness. While president of the Hope Chinese school student council, Charles raised thousands of dollars last summer for the Navajo nation
“I’ve always loved volunteering and also helping other people since I know in my daily life, like random strangers have helped me out too so I really want to give back to other people including the elderly,” says Zhang.
Those efforts have led Charles to receive the National WWII Museum’s Billy Michal Leadership Award, which is given annually to one student from each state representing the American spirit in their community.