Shaker Heights third-grader is helping the Cleveland homeless one stitch at a time

A third-grader in Shaker Heights is counting his blessings by helping those down on their luck, trying to make life more comfortable for locals in need.

When he's not in the classroom at University School, most days Giovanni Dargaj can be found working on a craft project with a purpose. It all started with a visit to a Cleveland homeless shelter.

"Makes me sad that they don't have a place to go and everyone else has a place to go," Giovanni said.

He turned his sadness into something constructive and started collecting toiletries.

"That wasn't enough for Gio," family friend Cindy Slow said.

Giovanni's mother, Cortney Dargaj, said her son has always been empathetic.

“He would be the kid that would bring every homeless person home to our house if we could," Dargaj said.

So the ten-year-old went to the next best thing he could think of and is now on a mission to give a household staple to those without one. He started a few months ago by hand-sewing pillows. Giovanni said he wanted to make one for each bed in the homeless facility he visited, but it stared as quite an undertaking.

"The hand sewing was taking us awhile," Dargaj said.

That's when University School graduate Ricky Smith, who is also the founder of Random Acts of Kindness Everywhere, stepped in.

"Giovanni couldn't believe that somebody would be so kind as to donate a sewing machine to us," Dargaj said.

Now the pillow-making is moving a little faster.

"Not a lot, because I still have homework and stuff after school," Giovanni said.

Giovanni hopes by sharing his story he will inspire other young people to join him.

“I love that he is taking his empathy and doing good in the world," Dargaj said.

Dargaj said she believes the pillows will send a much-needed message to the homeless in the community.

"I just hope when they lay down that particular night that it gives them a glimpse of hope," Dargaj said.

Hope that Dargaj believes can come with the simplest gesture.

"We talk a lot about how something so small can make a big difference, and if we all come together to do that, it's kind of our goal," said Dargaj.

Print this article Back to Top