Salving the Salvation

Two seniors set up donation drive for The Salvation Army


Courtesy of Jamie Leonard

A basket with snacks, a toothbrush, toothpaste and pads is one of the baskets that was donated to the donation.

Immigrating to America from Vietnam at 7 years old without any financial plan, senior Tu Huynh grew up depending on her uncle for financial assistance. Now that she has the resources to help people whose position she was once in, Huynh decided to co-start a donation drive for The Salvation Army with senior Riya Kolady.

Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) helps students give back to the community by having club members start service and leadership events. The donation drive that Hunyh and Kolady started is being held through FCCLA and will aim to give away 350 care baskets to individuals sheltered at the Salvation Army Carr P Collins Transitional Housing Center. They are requesting items such as individually packaged snacks, baby wipes, diapers, pads/tampons, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, gloves and socks. Donated items can be dropped off in room 1340 by March 31. 

“[When we came to America, we] had to get food stamps [to survive,],” Hyunh said. “[We used] our savings and my parents [would work] at my uncle’s store [to get our income]. Since I grew up from a very low-income background, I decided for my FCCLA event to help low-income and homeless families that [were] residing in the Salvation Army. With the lack of food, necessities [and] resources [the people at the Salvation Army experience], it really reminds me of when we immigrated here to the U.S.” 

Huynh brought up the idea to Kolady, and they decided to work together to create this donation drive. 

“I’ve always wanted to help and make a difference [for] the less fortunate, and this fundraiser was an opportunity to [do so],” Kolady said. “Tu suggested [that] we [could] provide gifts for people at the Salvation Army and I thought that was [a] perfect idea. There [are many] people who [are] struggling to find a job, struggling to make ends meet, some people even get kicked out of their house and are on the streets. The Salvation Army is the place that provides the help they need and we want to offer our help.” 

Family and consumer science teacher and FCCLA sponsor Jamie Leonard said the spring is not a time where many donations come into the Salvation Army,  compared to Thanksgiving and Christmas. Leonard helped connect Kolady and Huynh to the Salvation Army Carr P Collins Transitional Housing to talk about what their needs are at the shelter for the individuals that are currently unhoused.

“I’m super proud of them,” Leonard said. “I think this [drive is] creative, it’s different [and] it meets a need that’s not always met at this time of year. It shows great compassion, because [at] this particular shelter, they’re also serving families, and so they are able to reach out with an Easter basket in a kid-friendly way [while also giving feminine products] for women.” 

So far, Huynh and Kolady have received one basket of goods and say they hope to see more student involvement in donation. They have paired up with different clubs to have other club members gain service points for donating. They have also hung up posters around school and announced it in other ways to promote their donation. 

“We’re doing as much as we can as high school students [to give] back to the community,” Huynh said. “Back then, [my family and I] were fortunate to have a roof over our head. Our uncle helped us quite a bit, but obviously not enough for us to provide an [independant] income for [our] family. The government assistance, the food stamps, definitely helped buying groceries so we [wouldn’t] have to spend our savings. [It] helped us save up for our own place in Texas [and we have] been staying here for 10 years.” 

The Salvation Army houses up to 350 people, and Huynh said that with more people being laid off, experiencing homelessness and other unfortunate situations, she hopes to have more people donate. 

“Because of the recent economy, a lot of people are losing their jobs,” Huynh said. “There’s an increase in the unemployment rate, which is very unfortunate for everybody. My dad just got laid off from his job, but we have enough savings to provide [for] us. I feel like there’s not enough assistance for people who need daily help in their life and I just want to give back to the people who don’t have enough government assistance.” 

Leonard said students can donate so that they can help those who are in need of items requested. 

“We are very fortunate to live where we are and have the resources we do, and not everyone in our area has that,” Leonard said. “This is the opportunity to really promote some equity and balance out the resources that are available here.”