Kids Who Make a Difference – Jim Turner

Kids Who Make Difference

Several years ago, Jim Turner heard a telethon on the radio for the N.C. Children’s Hospital and decided he could use his love of origami art to help the hospital raise money for much-needed programs.

So at the age of 13, Turner began making origami greeting cards and selling them to florists and stationery stores to benefit the hospital. His fundraising program, known as Heartbeats for Kids, has since raised more than $2,500 for the hospital.

“The first cards I made had a heart in them and you could remove the heart from the card and make it beat,” Turner says, explaining how he came up with the name for the fundraiser.

Now a 17-year-old high school junior, Turner has less time to devote to card-making, because origami is labor intensive and each card can take up to 30 minutes to design. (True origami does not allow for glue or cuts and is extremely time-consuming.) But Turner still enjoys origami art and has created original designs that have been selected for exhibits that tour the country and world.

Turner is an interesting blend of engineer, artist and philanthropist. His mother, Peggy Turner, says folding origami is a combination of math and art that has helped her son develop his spatial visualization of 3-D objects.

Principles of origami paper folding have been used by experts for real-world applications such as folding air bags in automobiles, Turner says.

Turner is also involved in community service at school and at his church. He was named a Distinguished Finalist this year for the 2010 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards for his community service activities, including the Heartbeats for Kids project.

This year, he organized a donation drive to benefit deployed soldiers by working with He is president of the Math Honors Society and the National Honor Society at Middle Creek High School in Apex. He tutors ESL students at his school, volunteers as a student representative for the PTSA and teaches Sunday school. Turner also continues to follow his passion for origami as a member of TOFU (Triangle Origami Folders United). In the midst of his volunteer efforts, Turner also managed to be one of only 381 youth in the country to earn the top score of 2400 on his SAT.

Making and selling the greeting cards has taught Turner about managing a small business. “I learned you need to have somebody who will support you,” he says. “Businesses I sell to have been very nice to me.”

The cards benefit not only the hospital, but also the people who buy the cards and the card recipients. Turner sees it as a way to bring people together.

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