In February, we packed and delivered a total of 200 bags to the homeless communities across the city. Some of us wrote cards. Some of us came to pack. Some of us baked cookies. And some of us went to deliver. These bags are making a huge impact, not only the essential items such as socks and snacks, but also the encouraging words on the cards, the Chinese red envelopes, and most importantly, the heart and kindness we put into each and every one of these bags.
In the past several days, some of us lost power and or water due to the extremely low temperature. The inconvenience during this short period of time made us more grateful and even more aware of the homeless people who are sleeping in tents and even on the street with no shelter. How would they survive the winter? Where they can go to get help? Is your heart aching for them?
Aiden Wen, 7th grade
Bags of hope was truly something my heart has been in. It was a pleasure to do something I know would benefit the community around us. I can say that this definitely feels better than doing things for myself, as a single person.
COVID-19 has really put some underprivileged people’s sufferings into scale. We don’t have many places to go, and we’re watching our friends and family getting sick- something that’s based purely on luck! Perhaps some underprivileged people were unlucky like that! It was as if the world wanted to teach us a lesson, to teach us that we should always help those in need, and it would really make a difference in the world.
The recent cold weather woke me up a little too. Many houses lost electricity and water, two things whose availability varies a lot in our community. If it was so hard to go without water and electricity for just a short 8 hours, what must it be like to have minimal amounts for years? The varying amounts in our community become more and more truthfully concerning to us.
I know that every little bit helps, and I’ll continue to participate in events like Bags of Hope, for every little bit helps.
Joshua Wu, 7th grade
The opportunity to serve in Bags of Hope was one of the better ones this year. Normally the things we do go to some unknown factor and the effects were hard to see. In this, though, we started the project on our own, and we gave the items to the homeless people ourselves. Seeing the homeless people smile and thank us really changes your attitude. Overall I think this project wasn’t the most Earth-shattering or unbelievable thing, but we did what we could and that’s what matters.
Iris Chen, 7th grade
Covid has impacted and changed people in ways impossible to imagine a year ago; and several inches of snow has fallen where it is not the slightest bit normal, but we’ve all learned that nothing is “normal” during this time. Many people have lost power, and I even consider those people still lucky. Many people have a broken heater, and therefore a freezing house, but those people are still lucky. The underprivileged people striving during these times are facing worse things than any of the middle-class families losing power and so forth are. Even people like me who have all our needs during this time feel sad stressed, and lonely, so I can’t even imagine those underprivileged people’s feelings and thoughts. When presented with the opportunity to participate in bags of hope, I was ready. If every one of us contributes just a tiny bit, we can make a big difference. This snow storm, it is showing us even more that we should be grateful for what we have instead of complaining about what we are missing. We are all humans, and we need to help our one-of-a-kind earthlings and keep moving forward with positive motivation.
The message we have been giving to those not so fortunate reminds me of a very sweet poem, “Hope is the thing with feathers” It’s words:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.
Catherine Tu, 9th grade
First Covid-19, now a snowstorm. So many Texans are losing power, water, gas, everything. Just weeks ago we were oblivious to how horrible it was to live without these necessities. After going through all of this, I’ve realized that the Bags of Hope recipients have been living this way. They have to endure the snow blowing at them with no mercy, hoping it’ll all end soon. Hope. The message we’ve been sending them all along. “Have hope, even in these unprecedented times.” We have hope that the snowstorm and Covid-19 will end, but we can’t help thinking “when?” Those who sit around waiting for that “when” to come will not be the ones needed, but those that help others, even despite knowing when “when” is, are. Our homeless brothers and sisters are struggling to survive the suddenly cold climate, but many are helping. Blankets, socks, water and more being delivered by the food bank or organizations may seem little, but all those items help tremendously. Small necessities given spread hope amongst the homeless, the reason Bags of Hope was created. Even though the icy roads are preventing many people from reaching them, we have hope that the community has come together to provide the necessities that they need.
David Li, 9th grade
Bags of Hope was a great way for me to challenge my comfort zone. It said “no” to the standard norm. Many times I’ve watched and driven by a homeless person standing at the side of the road, and finally, I was able to do something about it. The winter storm also acted as a wake-up call for me. It’s pretty hard without running water or electricity. I can’t imagine what it would be like to have limited resources like this all the time, without any actual way of procuring them myself. I just hope that with the few supplies that we were able to give the homeless, that they’ll somehow be able to make it through the storm. There are few homeless shelters in Austin, and most of them are reserved for women and children. There are not many places that those on the streets can turn to in a time like this. Knowing that it must be really psychologically tolling on them. I just hope that somewhere at some time, these people are being looked after by our community.
Gloria Wu, 9th grade
This month will always be a memorable month for me. The date we chose for passing out bags was February 13th, meaning that it fell between two holidays: Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day. We decided to do something special this time, adding cookies and handwritten letters. My dad also bought socks for us to include in the bags. To be completely honest, I was a bit wary of the socks, not knowing if they would actually be helpful. Little did I know that a few days later we’d experience not only seemingly impossible cold weather but also snow. Although almost everyone has lost power and water, I’m extremely grateful that we at least have a home, food, and a lot of other resources. However, the homeless are not so lucky. There may not be many ways we can provide for them other than with bags, but I hope that in the coming months we will be able to support the homeless community even more.