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Van Nuys, California
The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

Helping the homeless

Housing instability and homelessness disproportionately affect LGBTQIA+ youth. Clubs on the VNHS campus collaborate to aid the troubled youth through fundraisers and donations.
Helping+the+homeless
THE MIRROR | VAL ARIAS

Approximately 40% of the homeless youth in California identify as a part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual community and more than one out of four youth LGBTQIA+ members have encountered homelessness or housing uncertainty at a point in their lives. 

The Center for American Progress reports that homeless LGBTQIA+ youth relocate to different areas in search of a more accepting community, or a place where members of the LGBTQIA+ community are more protected by laws. Familial homophobia is a major cause of this issue.

The school’s Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club was founded on the concept of harboring a safe community at school for those in the LGBTQIA+ community.

To help teens who have no homes and whose only offense is their identity, the GSA and Help the Homeless clubs are collaborating to fundraise supplies to donate to support these struggling youth.

“We contacted the local lgbt center and let them know we were interested in doing a drive,” GSA club president Max Sandoval said. “We asked them what they needed, and we decided to do a drive to help the community and give back.”

The clubs hope that through their donations, they can reach beyond the school walls and touch the lives of fellow LGBTQIA+ individuals.

The drive will be taking place from April 8-19. Students, parents and staff alike are encouraged to donate clothes, food, toiletries and other necessities.

According to Help the Homeless club president Maya Diaz, the club focuses on providing information about homelessness and the issues that contribute to this crisis. They hold coordinated volunteer events in an effort to proactively make a difference.

“We just did one volunteer event with the Church of the Valley where we were helping with food and pantry,” Diaz said. “There are many more volunteer opportunities and we’ve done multiple drives last semester with the help of different mission groups.”

While the club has held drives and organized community service events in the past, Diaz explains that this drive is a unique endeavor.

“It’s the first time we are collaborating with a different club, so it’s special,” she said. “It kind of focuses on a specific group or issue rather than something bigger than just homelessness, so it goes into a smaller issue within the bigger issue of homelessness in that aspect.”

Sandoval says that this collaboration is bringing new ideas to the table, providing an overall exciting experience. They explained that it was the first time they were doing a drive that wasn’t just a club fundraiser.

“None of the funds are coming back to our club,” they said. “It’s all for the shelter. Usually if we do fundraisers we are making some sort of a profit that helps benefit our club, but this time we are not getting anything back from it. It’s rewarding in a different way.”

Though both parties have yet to determine whether or not this collaboration will be a recurring event, Diaz and Sandoval encourage everyone to donate to the drive.

“We encourage people to bring hygiene products,” Sandoval said. “They mostly ask for clothes and canned goods. They want us to focus on clothes because most of the youth, when they run away from their homes, they don’t bring their clothes with them so that’s their most needed item.”

Diaz went on to explain that knowledge warrants change. And so, through their drive, GSA and Help the Homeless are working to spread awareness.

“Even though we’re making a physical impact because we’re giving them clothes, it’s also raising awareness,” she said. “Getting clubs to collaborate like this brings people from GSA and Help the Homeless together and spreads awareness. It makes people want to help and contribute their time.”

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About the Contributor
Olamide Olumide
Olamide Olumide, News/Features Editor
From writing stories at the back of my elementary school notebooks to my unhealthy obsession with law-themed shows, (especially Lucifer), I've always loved telling and reading stories. As a returning staff member to the Mirror publication, I intend to explore my interest in writing in a more in-depth way as well as reporting stories in a dynamic and interesting perspective. Besides writing and law, I'm an absolute sucker for the kpop industry.
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