Shelly is a 17-year-old student at Plano East Senior High (PESH), and a member of the school’s HOSA chapter – a powerful curricular program of student-led activities designed to develop future leaders for the health care system.
Right before the holiday break, Shelly’s HOSA group for future professionals was presented a competition in which self-made groups had to come up with some ideas to raise awareness for any issue they choose.
“We were struggling with something to raise awareness for,” she said. “But I had the idea of raising awareness for foster kids and what they go through. The emotional trauma is real and thousands go through it every day in this country.”
Foster children and what they experience is something dear to Shelly’s heart. She knew all about City House and what the organization does for homeless and runaways. Her HOSA group consisting of three classmates decided to put together a donation drive for items to be given to City House to help shelter and counsel local children who are in the foster care system, homeless or runaways.
Items accepted for donation through the drive include:
- Shaving cream
- Lotion (regular or small size)
- Paper towels
- Individual snacks (peanut-free only)
The drive runs through Feb. 5. Shelly not only got PESH involved in the drive; she also recruited Clark, McMillen and Williams High Schools to participate as well. A donation of five items is good for one service hour, for those who qualify. Donations for this drive can also be dropped off by individuals interested in helping Shelly’s cause at the City House administrative offices (901 18th St., Plano).
“This is all about awareness,” she said. “I just want people to know more about a subject that is real and affects thousands every day. There are kids in classrooms all over that are currently in foster care.
“People talk about cancer and other awful conditions and those are huge, but many do not realize how many foster kids there are and what they go through. First of all – the fact that many were removed from their home; the feeling of getting ripped away from all they know and then the feeling of getting placed in someplace they don’t. All they want is their mom or dad or family. On average they stay in foster care for 12-to-17 months, sometimes years. They are missing their families. I just think it is not fair to these kids. They didn’t do anything and had no choice.”
And what specifically does she hope to gain from the awareness?
“Maybe it will trigger someone to want to help; maybe say, ‘I want to adopt, I want to foster kids’, to get involved to make foster care better,” she said. “Maybe it will make a few people want to donate or volunteer at places like City House.”
At an early January HOSA meeting at PESH, a local doctor was present to speak to the group, read over the donation flyer and heard about the mission spearheaded by Shelly’s group. The message impacted him greatly, and he personally pledged an impressive $10,000 to City House.
Shelly just wants to give foster kids a bright future.
“I’m very excited about the donation drive and what we are doing,” she said.