Megan Johnson gives a blanket to an appreciative homeless man in Seattle's Pioneer Square.
Service to others makes Megan state's top high school student
An advocate for the homeless and less fortunate, 19-year-old Megan Johnson has been picked as the Outstanding High School Senior in Washington by Prudential Insurance.
A Running Start student at Highline Community College and a senior at the Highline School District's Choice Academy, Megan will receive $1,000 and an all-expense-paid trip in May to Washington, D.C.
Johnson is being honored for starting many programs over the past eight years to raise money to help homeless people, hospitalized children, and drug-addicted babies.
"I do it because I really care and not just to do good works or for getting rewards and attention," said Johnson.
"Megan is from South Korea," said her mother, Jill Johnson. "We adopted her at seven months of age...we really wanted a little girl and we fell in love with Megan's picture."
Megan was born with Hemifacial dysplasia, a condition in which the lower half of one side of the face is underdeveloped and does not grow normally. She has had 27 surgeries and expects to have two more.
"Nine years ago I went to vacation bible school and saw a video of the homeless living in San Francisco. Seeing the sad faces and the loneliness caused me to want to help them," said Johnson.
Initially Johnson collected canned food, but as it became increasingly hard to store, she turned to a different idea - police blankets.
"We raised enough money for 50 blankets. The first batch went to a tent city in Tukwila," said Johnson.
She started making fleeced blankets and has now donated over 1,000 blankets.
Johnson and her family went to Seattle on Thanksgiving eight years ago with 50 blankets and went under bridges and doorways and found people that don't go to shelters.
According to Johnson, the blankets went fast and as they were packing up to leave they had one last blanket left.
"It was so bizarre...I saw this homeless lady from a distance. I tapped her shoulder and asked her if she would like to have this blanket. She turned around and had tears rolling down her face. She told me I was her little angel and because of me it will help her to survive through the winter," said Johnson.
"She asked me to pray for her and for eight years every night I have prayed for the homeless and for Margaret. I don't know if she is still alive, but I still pray for her," said Johnson.
Johnson has a special relationship with the Shriner's Hospital in Portland, Ore. where she has gone for all her surgeries since five years of age.
"It's a wonderful family-friendly children's hospital run by people that raise the money to support it," said Johnson.
For the past four years Johnson has been the National Patient Ambassador for Shriner's Hospital.
Johnson also has her own publishing company called iDream Publishing Co. and has had three books published which she has written and illustrated: Clowns Make a Difference; Queen Meggie; and Growing up Different, which is coming out in May. So far she has been able to donate $10,000 from the sale of her books to the Shriner's hospital.
"Megan also donates money to charity every month," said Jill Johnson, Megan's mother. "She gives $100 to First Place - a school in Seattle for at risk kids, and $100 to the Union Gospel Mission."
Megan's biggest fundraiser is her hot cider stand, which she has operated at Christmas by her home in Redondo for the past four years. She raised $4000 last Christmas and also sells silicone bands that say, "Megan's Mission."
"One of the things I'm proudest of is the Multiservice Center in Federal Way. Last year I got my fourth family off the streets and in their home. I raised the money," said Johnson.
Johnson also sells crocheted necklaces that her mom makes and uses the money to make blankets for drug-addicted babies at Child Haven in Seattle.
"I go to the streets and ask what I can bring," said Johnson. "Socks are a big deal. I get blankets, socks, hats, gloves, water bottles...hundreds of them. I take 100 every time I go."
Johnson also partners with the inmates at the Monroe Correction Complex.
"The prisoners have made hundreds of hats that I take to the streets and to the children in Shriner's hospital. I call this partnership 'Giving Back'," said Johnson.
Megan mentioned that there are a lot more women on the streets these days.
"One homeless lady couldn't care for her little white Maltese poodle so she gave it to me. Little Sadie found a place in my heart," said Johnson.
Johnson's future plan is to become a nurse at Shriner's Children's Hospital in Portland so she can help children.
"My parents thought my charity work would last six weeks but now nine years later I'm still doing it," she said.
If anyone would like to donate money or materials to Megan's Mission please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org