OAKLAND -- Bishop O'Dowd High School senior Laura Graham was sitting at the dinner table with her family three years ago when it all began.
Graham learned that their close family friend had recently adopted a foster child, and that before being adopted, the child was barely given money for clothes. This inspired Graham to make a change.
Since that dinner conversation, Graham has used her passion for clothes to help out others. She began a nonprofit organization called 1-Closet where she hosts donation and clothing drives and then delivers the clothes to foster homes, youth shelters and any other places that have the need for clothes. Her mother has helped Graham host events as well as sort and deliver the clothes.
According to her website, 1-closet.com, Graham has collected and donated more than 15,000 garments and has collected approximately $105,000 in donations, thereby making a difference to more than 6,000 teens.
"I definitely didn't expect it to take off this much," Graham said.
Graham was determined to make a difference in helping out others.
"It is amazing and awesome to know if you've put effort and time into something you can make it," Graham said.
Graham has always had a passion for clothing.
"I never played a sport and don't really have other hobbies so this takes the place of that," Graham said.
Since 2011, Graham has received over 15 awards for her charity work. This year, Graham had received the following awards and recognition: Kids Are Heroes Award; winner of Kohl's Cares Scholarship Program; Nordstrom scholarship honoree; Recognition for Community Service by U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez; Violet Richardson Soroptimist Award winner; and Youth Service Challenge finalist.
On Sept. 27, Graham will be honored by the American Red Cross Association with the Act of Kindness and Philanthropy Hero of Alameda County award. The ceremony will be presented at the 13th Annual Heroes Recognition Breakfast between 8 to 10 a.m. at the Hilton Oakland Airport.