After reading The Diary of Anne Frank in the 8th grade, Claire Helmen remembered “thinking how brave and courageous [Anne] was.” For her, the teenager was a kindred spirit, specifically in her concern for children affected by violence.
Two years earlier, Claire founded a program, “Claire’s Comfort for Kids,” to help the children of domestic violence victims. Her idea was to have other children make blankets with personal notes that would be placed in police cars so that when an officer arrived at a scene where a child was involved, they could give them one of the blankets, letting them know others cared. “Like one of the themes Anne Frank expressed in her diary, kids often feel isolated and scared in situations involving the police,” she wrote in her Spirit of Anne Frank Award application. She “represents those who [are] unseen and those to whom the public have turned a blind eye.”
Six years after its founding, over 3,600 blankets have been distributed across Indiana, where Claire lives. As a freshman at Indiana University, she will continue her work this fall. “Anne Frank proved that children [are] not simply young and foolish; she showed the world through her writing that children can be compassionate and determined.While Anne Frank was only a young girl, her legacy gives inspiration that one person can make a difference.”