Saving the Homeless

uring these tough times of COVID-19, some people are living a happy and healthy life and some people are not. I thought if we all come together to take action, we can help save so many lives and stop the spread of COVID while doing so. I decided to run a community drive to help save lives. To conduct a successful community drive, it requires a lot of qualities such as time, patience, effort, skills, etc. I learned a lot from this 3 week experience of intense planning, organizing, and promoting my drive.

First, I needed to identify a cause, why am I doing this? Ater going over my ideas with family and peers, I decided that I would like to collect food items. Food is an important essential and not many people have so I thought this was important to collect. First, I researched and contacted multiple organizations around my community of South Bay, CA. I got in contact with Long Beach Rescue Mission and they mentioned they are currently accepting food donations to help the Long Beach homeless community. I decided that all the donations I receive in my drive will go to Long Beach Rescue Mission. After deciding the location and cause, I decided to create a time frame. Since it is the end of summer, I decided to run a community drive for 2 weeks. The next step was to draft a flyer which is going to spread the word of my drive around the community. I used an amazing website called canva to create a colorful and informative flyer. It went through many reviews by my peers, Empower And Help leaders, my parents, etc. After I came up with a final flyer design, I shared it with my entire community, friends, and family. The flyer was very informative, moving, and colorful which urged a lot of people to donate. Within 2 days, many people were excited and ready to come donate food items!

To make sure this project was organized all the way, I decided to open a google document to create a table of who donated and how many individual items they donated. In addition, I took pictures of each person’s donations separately to document them as well. This way, I can always keep a running total of how many items I collected at the end of each week and the drive. This document also helped me list who donated/supported this drive. 

From my experience, the most difficult part of running this drive was spreading the word with as many people as I can, even outside of my community. I was worried that people would deny the chance to donate due to COVID and people wanting to stock the food for themselves. I tried to share the flyer with as many people and organizations as possible. I was proven wrong, every single person I shared my flyer and message with was very supportive and wanted to donate to my drive! However, I ran into a problem, I live in Rancho Palos Verdes which is a city on the hill and a lot of supporting people live in Torrance which is a city off the hill. I did not want people not to be able to donate because the drop-off location is too far, so I decided to choose a location in the midpoint of RPV and Torrance which people can come and drop off their donations. This idea was successful and many people came to donate on Saturday, 8/8/20. On Sunday of that weekend, I also decided to collect donations from people’s houses to save driving which was also a successful move.

After that successful weekend of picking up many donations from Torrance and collecting donations from people’s homes, I continued to receive more donations. A lot of my close friends were very supportive and were able to donate items and share the flyer with their friends. I was able to get in contact with Kristen Leone, a volunteer who is in charge of all volunteer activities at a popular organization called NYLM. She was able to share the flyer with all of the volunteers in that organization and I received more donations. As the 1st week went by, I continued to share my flyer and receive more donations. To my surprise, after the 1st week the donation total was 330 individual items. I received a remarkable number of donations from a next door neighbor who has immune issues. Along with food items, she donated some other items that Long Beach Rescue Missions accepts such as clothing, blankets, toiletry items, and medical supplies. This was a huge donation and took a lot of time to sort and unpack. Together with all the donations, I can proudly say I have collected over 500 items to help donate to my community.

After the community drive ended, I made sure to separately thank each and every person who donated to my drive with a heartfelt message about how much these donations will mean to the homeless people and how much it means to me for them to support. I feel it is important to show my gratitude to all the people who supported me doing a drive during COVID, because it is not an easy act to give up food or even buy food from the store to donate. I am thankful that I have such supportive people around me. There are so many things I learned from this experience and I encourage people to try and support their community by running drives also. Here are some of my successful moves and tips:

  1. Be organized before you start your drive. Plan your time frame, items, and drop-off location! Make sure your drive is contactless due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic!
  2. Think about your supporting people! Try to be as flexible and accommodating as much as possible with your donors to make your drive successful.
  3. Stay organized and have fun! This is an experience which should come from your heart and you should not have any stress.

Running a community drive was an awesome experience and something I really wanted to do which I completed. This is an experience that I will never forget after all the support I received  from my peers, family, and Empower And Help leaders. I am always looking for ways to help my community, whether it be running a community drive again, or doing other volunteer activities. As a person, I am truly happy from my heart because I am going to be a part of helping someone’s life. I ran this community drive to support people of all age groups, young to old. My leadership, organizing, planning, and communication skills have improved tremendously from this experience of running a community drive. Although this was my second biggest project as an Empower And Help ambassador, joining Empower And Help isn’t the only way to give back to the community. I encourage everyone around the world to look for opportunities to help keep your community happy and healthy.

[By Neha Sambangi, is Global Awareness Ambassador from California]

2 thoughts on “Saving the Homeless

  1. Hello Neha,
    First and foremost the picture of you with everything you have collected is something that dreams are made of for the homeless population, what an amazing gift you have given them! You should be so proud of your work, it was not easy but you ultimately prevailed with excellence no less. I loved reading about the journey of your community drive and think you utilized great strategies and poured a lot of love and passion into this project. I love how you were accommodating and put your thinking hat on to be able to maximize your efforts by setting up a drop off and making sure it was all contactless. I hope you continue to work on community drives as you seem to have a true knack for making an impact! Great job on the article and the flyer looks stellar!

  2. Hi Neha,
    Starting a community drive is a great way of contributing to your community. I hope with your writing more people will get into starting community drives and help out their community! Great job!

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