A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Brooke Smith

A Northwest Indiana Life in the Spotlight: Brooke Smith

Spreading joy and love can be accomplished by anyone, no matter their age. Project Gee, founded by first-grader Brooke Smith, proves that even one compassionate little girl can make a positive, long-lasting impact on the community.

“I wanted to make this community a better place,” Smith said. “I’m trying to teach other people about the importance of volunteering and working through goodwill.”

Brooke first came up with the idea for Project Gee in 2018 after she participated in a volunteer event at the Ronald McDonald House in Chicago with her parents. The event, called Meals from the Heart, has volunteers working together to cook a homemade dinner for families staying at the house. While her parents were cooking pasta for the families, Brooke went to the playroom made for the sick children and cleaned it all by herself. Being a part of this effort inspired Brooke, and she yearned to find more ways to help people in the community. This led to the creation of Project Gee in 2019, which was named after her beloved stuffed bunny she has had since she was a baby.

The mission of Project Gee is to share Brooke's passion for service with others in the community, with a goal to inspire children to find areas that they are passionate about.

Project Gee’s first event launched in the summer of 2019 at a local park in Munster. Brooke brought a bunch of brown lunch bags and asked volunteers to bring snack donations like granola bars and chips. Everyone sat down at the park and created their Care Bags with positive and inspirational messages and designs, which were later sent to children at the Ronald McDonald House. In 2019, Project Gee created 300 Care Bags for the Ronald McDonald House, with hopes to make even more throughout 2020.

Brooke’s next big project was community park cleaning. Since she loves to play outside, she recognized other people would love to have a clean place to have fun, too. She and her volunteers frequently participate in park cleaning events to keep these areas clean for children and their families to play and enjoy. They use disposable gloves, trash bags, and trash pickers to get the job done.

“We got so many people in the community committed to helping us in our efforts,” said Jamie Smith, Brooke’s mother. “Brooke is so appreciative of everyone’s support. We are proud of how far we’ve come.”

Project Gee also began collecting pop can tabs to fund various items and projects for the families at the Ronald McDonald House. Brooke has collected tabs from both people in her school and the community. In addition, Project Gee is partnering with the Town of Munster to further expand their efforts.  

“I made many new friends with these events,” Brooke said. “We have so many similar interests and that makes me really happy.”

In 2020, Project Gee hopes to continue efforts and find new ways to spread goodwill and service. For a future project, Brooke wants to get stuffed animals like her beloved bunny Gee to the children of Ronald McDonald House.

“As a parent, it brings me joy to let my child be a part of such a compassionate project at such a young age,” Jamie said. “This experience has even taught me more about how much serving the community can truly make a difference.”

“I want Project Gee to do goodwill around the world,” Brooke said enthusiastically. “I want every kid and family to be happy!”

For more information on Project Gee, please visit www.projectgee.org.

Project Gee’s donation page can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/project-gee-launch.