After witnessing the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey on the community of Houston and Southeast Texas, Student Council members at Ánimo Pat Brown Charter High School (APB) raised over a thousand dollars to donate to the United Way of Greater Houston, to help those impacted.
“In the past, student council’s Community Outreach Committee has organized toy drives and blood drives, and we’ve had students donate their hair to cancer patients, but never something like this,” recalled Amanda Garcia, APB Student Council instructor and English teacher. “Something where crisis relief is needed, you figure out how you can help, and that's what these students did.”
Change Starts With You
When Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas coast, becoming one of the largest hurricanes to impact the continental United States in over ten years, students wondered what they could do to assist those affected.
The idea of fundraising was proposed by English teacher Nat Pickering to the student-led Community Outreach Committee. After compiling research and facilitating conversations with Ms. Garcia and APB school leaders, the group decided to reach out to their school and communities for donations.
“While we are comfortable in our homes and schools there are so many people, even students like us, who have just lost their homes and all of their belongings.” -Alexis Acosta, APB Senior
“We wanted to show students that there are life occurrences that matter outside of their own lives,” said Alexis Acosta, senior at APB. “While we are comfortable in our homes and schools there are so many people, even students like us, who have just lost their homes and all of their belongings.”
The Community Outreach Committee collaborated with one of Pickering’s English classes, and together they researched the effects of the hurricane, the areas it impacted, and what aid was needed.
To raise awareness at their school, students led classwide presentations sharing their findings, and proposing the impact they could make if they worked together.
Coming Together For the Greater Good
Despite the Community Outreach Committee's hard work and planning, they were unsure how their efforts would be received. “At first we thought we wouldn’t get near our goal of a thousand dollars,” said Morris Gomez, senior at APB.
“We were even thinking of decreasing our goal...until the first day we started taking donations.” To their surprise, they reached their goal within just two days!
Garcia attributes the committee’s early success to her students’ passion and good spirit.
“They really put the joy factor back into donating,” said Garcia. During lunch, the committee would set up in the quad to encourage their peers to donate, and with every donation they would cheer, and celebrate the donor.The student council also volunteered alongside community members to help non-profit Hav A Sole, make 600 care packages for those impacted by the hurricanes.
Fostering Civically Engaged Youth
Green Dot educators cultivate civically engaged youth by giving them leadership over advocating for local and national causes, and providing space and support for their ideas to come to life on campus.
This experience demonstrated the impact students can make, not only in their communities, but in their country. “In this time where the country is so divided, it felt great to see people from our communities and around the world come together to help others,” said Acosta.
The Community Outreach Committee is excited to create more opportunities for their peers and the surrounding community to get involved. They hope their accomplishment sends a message to other students who want to make a difference:
“Change starts as a little dream,” said Jocelyn Hernandez, senior at APB. “But if you research, collaborate with other people, and are willing to take action you can make that little dream become a big reality.”