by Sarah Farrell
Special to the Hays Free Press
One thing many students take for granted is that they will have brand new school supplies to begin the school year. The reality is that new school supplies are a luxury that some students can’t afford.
There are approximately 16 million students throughout the United States who go without basic school supplies each year. Kaygan Nielson and Lindsey Yazbek, seniors at Hays High School, hope that their school supply drive will help make a difference for some of those students.
Students, parents and staff members at Hays can donate any packaged school supplies beginning on the first day of school through Sept. 14. There will be a donation bucket in the classrooms of five teachers as well as in the front office, where supplies can be dropped off.
Nielson and Yazbek will take the supplies they collect to Staples as part of the Staples for Students school supply drive. Staples distributes the supplies to low-income students in the area.
The hardest part of organizing a donation drive is to get people involved. “My goal is to collect a minimum of 200 items and get at least 10 percent of the student body involved in our drive,” Nielson said. They hope to be able to help as many needy kids as possible.
The students plan to use social media to tell people about their drive. “We’re trying to get as many students involved as possible by using Facebook and other forms of social media,” Nielson said. “We’re also going to use the school website and daily announcements.”
Nielson began volunteering as a freshman at the Buda Public Library during their holiday programs. Then, her junior year she joined Leo Club and volunteered at almost every event.
She has helped with Leo Club events such as the Angel Tree, Hays football concession stand, and Wiener Dog Races concessions. “I enjoy helping and meeting new people through community service,” Nielson said.
Yazbek was inspired to join Leo Club because of her older sister. “My older sister was the Vice President of Leo Club when she was a senior, and I look up to my older sister in so many ways,” Yazbek said.
She joined Leo Club sophomore year and only did a few things, but junior year she volunteered as much as she could. “My favorite thing to do is work the concession stand at football games,” Yazbek said.
Leo Club is the reason they both became deeply involved in volunteering in their community. “Mrs. Espinoza is inspiring,” they both agreed, “if she can do all that she does for us, then we feel that we can at least do something to help others.”
Yazbek went to the GOLD Youth Leadership Seminar last summer and was inspired to hold a canned food drive at Hays High School to feed the hungry in this area. “The food drive was my way to give back,” Yazbek said.
Yazbek’s canned food drive inspired many of her classmates, including Nielson, to organize their own community service projects. “I saw the success of Lindsey’s canned food drive and I thought I could do something like that,” Nielson said
“We want to lead by example,” Nielson said. Teenagers may not always think that volunteering is the cool thing to do, but it is really important. “We do what we think is right and hope that others follow suit,” Yazbek said, “I think kids should be more aware of the world around them.”