In 2018, while she was still 13 years old, Whitley County native Sydnee Floyd founded Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to connecting individuals to service opportunities while providing education, support and guidance on the needs of others.
By this time, she had already helped with numerous charitable causes using her allowance to sponsor a girl in Nicaragua. She crocheted scarves and sold them to sponsor a classroom at an orphanage in Uganda. She also used her allowance to help provide meals for the homeless and needy in the community where she lived.
In addition, she helped her mother provide needy children with toiletry bags for Christmas and to assist children in shopping for a Christmas gift for their parents.
She then worked with her mother to organize and assist in providing backpacks for 500 elementary school age children in the county schools where they lived.
The University of the Cumberlands’ students who assisted in this program, Shoes for the Soul, washed each child’s feet and placed new shoes and socks on the children before giving them a new backpack. Each child’s backpack contained supplies for the new school year.
Sydnee grew up in Williamsburg.
While all her family members were employed, many of the families in the area had lost their jobs when the coal mines closed down.
This left a number of Sydnee’s friends without adequate food or clothing. Seeing that, Sydnee knew that she wanted to do something to help.
“Being there in my hometown and seeing my own friends not have what they needed broke my heart. I knew right then that my goal in life was to help others in any way I can. I will do whatever it takes to make a difference in this world,” she said.
After she moved to the Nashville area, she saw the multitude of needs in the area.
Upon enrolling in high school Sydnee started a club to create an awareness among her fellow students about the many volunteer opportunities available in the area.
Through Jumbled Dreams, she identifies those volunteer opportunities and then recruits young people and educates them on how they can help change lives by volunteering for a particular cause. To date over 100 volunteers are working to make a difference in the lives of others in their community.
Jumbled Dreams doesn’t support just one cause but many.
Over the past two years Jumbled Dreams has worked with over 25 different agencies to organize activities involving over a hundred volunteers to collect, pack and distribute 30,000 toiletries, 10,000 articles of clothing, shoes, coats and other items to the homeless and low income families.
Volunteers also cooked meals and served them to the needy; helped needy parents shop for Christmas gifts for their children; collected school supplies for children of deployed soldiers; and assisted in clean-up after the homeless showered in a mobile shower unit. Special assistance was also given to tornado victims.
Currently, Jumbled Dreams volunteers are seeking gift cards to fast food restaurants to distribute to the needy and homeless in their area. This will help the hungry to have food and will help the restaurants whose business has suffered during the pandemic.
Jumbled Dreams has also partnered with other organizations on various causes including bullying, blindness, Down Syndrome, children, education/school, arts, disabilities, and orphans.
So, what does Jumbled Dreams Changing Lives do? It changes lives or, at least, every effort is made to do that, organizers said.
“While I have had little personal contact with the homeless and needy since the pandemic began, I continue to work on their behalf by collecting toiletries, clothing and shoes for them. After these items are sorted and counted, they have been given to other organizations in Nashville that work directly with the homeless: People Loving Nashville, Safe Haven Family Shelter, Oasis Center, Shower the People, Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee, West Nashville Dream Center, Room at the Inn, Home Street Home. In total 2,956 items have been collected and donated since March. I continue to receive donations almost daily,” Sydnee said.
“I have also put out a call through social media for new or gently used backpacks to be given away in December at Christmas Dreams, a program we have hosted for the last three years. Our goal is to collect at least 250 backpacks and fill each with a blanket, a toiletry pack and a snack pack to distribute to the homeless and needy. We have collected the blankets and toiletry packs and are well on our way to collecting the other needed items.”
This summer she hosted or was a guest on 12 podcasts.
The subjects have varied from leadership to bullying to diversity to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic. Now that school has started back, she has to devote much of her time to school work, but does plan to continue all of her projects and possibly add more, just not at the level she was able to over the summer months.
“My final personal project for the summer was to give back to the school that helped me really realize my passion for helping others. Over the summer months, I collected school supplies from generous donors from all over Williamson County in Tennessee to give to school children who needed it the most,” Sydnee said.
“I have been collecting school supplies for four years, but this year was my largest collection, over 7,000 items! It was the perfect birthday gift, my 16th birthday, to travel back to my hometown in Whitley County and hand over a van full of supplies for the kids. I really saw my dreams come true and I really felt like we helped change lives!”
The supplies were delivered to Whitley Central Intermediate School recently by Sydnee and her mother, Jennifer Floyd.