GLEN ROCK, N.J. — Olivia Cecoltan of Glen Rock believes that the little things make a big difference.
Bath towels, for example, greatly enhanced the lives of the dozens of European orphans that Cecoltan.
Those bath towels were among the many "little things" donated through, the Hand in Hand Project (HIHP) , which the 18-year-old launched to help improved the lives of underprivileged children in Moldova.
This summer, the rising senior at Bergen County Academies launched a summer camp at a safe haven for mothers and children in her native land this year to aid youth impacted by domestic abuse.
"The terrible situations they were in left them very weak and fragile," said Cecoltan, a TEDx speaker.
"The summer camp allowed them to heal as I created a space in which they could forget about the terrible parts of their past and actually have fun."
She's been visiting the country ever since she moved to the U.S. as a child, and each time she returned noticed the stark difference between the poverty-stricken lives of youth in Moldova and comparatively lavish ones of other kids her age in the U.S.
"The Hand in Hand Project is not inspired by just one story of one child, but the stories of many Moldovan children living in uninhabitable conditions without basic necessities, suffering from a lack of opportunity, and living without confidence in their own future," Cecoltan said on her website.
"We constantly push ourselves to work harder to relieve the plight of children in Moldova and to help them change their lives for the better.
"We are inspired by the tearjerking thank-yous and the glowing smiles we see on their faces of those we reach a helping hand to."
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