Forest Park 10-year-old organizes fundraiser to help Harvey victims

FOREST PARK, Ill. -- In ways large and small, people in the Chicago area are doing what they can to help the victims of Hurricane Harvey.

But in Forest Park, Ill., one young girl turned a dinner table discussion into a huge donation drive.

It’s fair to say most 10-year-olds probably aren’t too concerned with anything but their immediate world, but that’s not the case for 10-year-old Storey Novak – a girl with a heart as big as the state she’s trying to help.

Storey, a fifth grader at Grant White Elementary School, in Forest Park, saw the images of the catastrophic flooding in south Texas in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

“Seeing the news and seeing all the pictures, it makes me feel sad and I wanted to help,” she said.

But she didn’t know exactly what to do until her father asked a simple question. He asked her, “What if it was us?”

“We try to have those talks around the dinner table – empathy was one that came up when we saw the hurricane,” Dan Novak, Storey’s father, said.

She said she would want people to help her family – and so she decided to exactly that for the victims.

“So, we were like, ‘We should do something,’ and I came up with this,” Storey said.

Storey started a donation drive and on Saturday morning, it went from a dinner discussion to an actual fundraiser.

Storey collected wipes, baby diapers, formula, toys, books, clothes, toothbrushes and toothpaste.

For hours, people came and dropped off whatever they could spare.

“We grabbed some bath towels and t-shirts and tank tops for Storey and her family – they’re shipping all of this out,” Nadine Tomasvich, a neighbor, said.

They filled a garage with boxes.

“Uncle Billy across the street doesn’t know we’re using his garage yet, but it’s packed to the gills,” Novak said.

“Kids like us are down there, and I want them to have stuff like we do,” Storey said.

Her grandparents live in Texas and she spent part of the summer visiting them, so she feels a connection to the Lone Star State.

“We went to Galveston, then we went to Beaumont, then we went back to new Brozneville,” she said.

The trip helped inspire Storey, but the truth is, she inspires others.

“She’s mature beyond her years as a 10-year-old fifth grader, and again she truly – when she puts her mind to something she goes 110 percent, or 110 miles. Per hour,” Novak said.

And as a truck full of supplies for flood victims pulled away, it wasn’t hard to see the moral of this story.

“If you want to do something, go for it,” Storey said.

Storey’s father said it’s too early to tally up all the donations, but it was more than they ever expected.

He said along with generosity, there’s another important lesson for Storey--gratitude. She’ll be writing thank you notes to all of the people who donated.