By Grace Mundy and Katie Ryu
With a year as historic and trying as 2020, it is no surprise that many have felt inspired to work toward a better world. Young people in particular seem to have been moved to enact positive change. During quarantine, students have had the opportunity to deeply reflect on their surroundings and brainstorm meaningful ways they can help others. The rise of student groups and organizations appears to be a testament to Generation Z’s increasing concern towards their communities and the world around them.
Evidently, Granada Hills Charter’s (GHC) own students have been doing some impactful work of their own. Here are just a few notable GHC students and their projects:
The Compassion Bootique
GHC seniors Rachel Lee, Hope Bang, and Maya Bernstein, along with Chatsworth Charter High School senior Sydney Lee, have been making a difference with the Compassion Bootique. Driven to raise funds in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and local relief efforts, they have been creating and selling jewelry along with other accessories. They’ve launched three different jewelry lines so far, and 100% of their profits are proudly donated to either Unicorn Riot, Reclaim the Block, or the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission.
“During quarantine, I had a lot of free time. Rather than mope around, my team and I figured we could use this time to help those in need. It doesn’t take much to make a difference,” Lee said.
As of now, the Compassion Bootique has donated a total of $1000 and is currently in the process of becoming a 501(c)(3) organization, which is a type of nonprofit.
The Buddy Dispatch Project
The Buddy Dispatch Project was started by seniors Ayaat Quazi and Samantha Soriano. The project is a pen pal program for kids and teens, with Quazi and Soriano leading sessions where they provide writing advice and topic ideas to guide participants.
“We want our program to be an outlet for participants to be able to express their thoughts and feelings to someone and also gain more perspective by hearing the thoughts and feelings of their buddy. We also top off each session with a fun craft that they can include in that week’s letter,” Soriano said.
Quazi and Soriano began their project after feeling as though online communication had become unfulfilling during quarantine. They found that writing letters led to more meaningful conversations, and that there was a therapeutic aspect to writing the letters as well. The Buddy Project hopes to help uplift its participants’ mental health by giving them a chance to form genuine relationships with others. Additionally, Quazi and Soriano wanted to encourage people to support the United States Postal Service (USPS).
“Overall, we want our generation to feel more connected in a way that is separate from the digital world, especially in the circumstances we’re living in today,” Soriano explained.
Pinta by Mari
Another student who felt inspired to make a difference was senior Mariette Reblora. She created Pinta by Mari. It originally started as a means of creative expression and as an additional source of income for her family who had just immigrated from the Philippines. Now, she takes official art commissions from clients who give her their desired subject and design to paint.
“The issues and crises happening all over the globe, such as the COVID-19 outbreak and Black Lives Matter movement, pushed me to make a move and plan to donate a part of the money from my commissions to non-profit organizations of my choice, such as the Loveland Foundation and Relief International to help people in times of need,” Reblora said.
Reblora always adds her own artistic twist and style, making her commissions unique to Pinta by Mari. She primarily works with water bottles and phone cases, as well as canvas paintings. She hopes that Pinta by Mari can not only make a positive impact through her donations, but also in motivating and inspiring her fellow artists to help in whatever ways they can.
No Cap News
Seniors Cassidy Dalva and Rocco Fantini wanted to contribute to their community with the power of knowledge and news, finding it crucial that they help keep their peers informed and globally aware. Motivated to provide young people with a way to stay updated on current events, they created No Cap News (NCN). NCN is an entirely student-run news organization that aims to provide both comprehensible and accurate news stories. The organization consists of over 35 student writers, editors, and other staff members.
“Cassidy and I founded No Cap News as a way to provide reliable information about current events in a way that is not only digestible for them, but in a manner that does away with the oftentimes extreme partisanship that we see many popular media outlets fall into,” Fantini said.
They’ve published nearly 600 articles since their start in March, and have gained over 110,000 readers on their website. Notably, the NCN team has grown to consist of students from all around the globe.
Senior Regina Santos has donated hundreds of dollars through her business. Since July 2019, Santos has crafted unique and fashionable pieces through her jewelry shop, Heebiejeebie Inc. This online shop offers earrings, necklaces, pocket chains, and varying accessories. She donates her profits to various groups, namely charities that support the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ organizations, and relief for the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. At least 50 percent of her profits are evenly donated to the following organizations: Campaign Zero, The Okra Project, and Project Hope.
Santos was inspired to donate by the wave of protests that followed after the death of George Floyd. She wanted to contribute to the sense of unity and passion she saw with protestors fighting for equality all over the world.
“I’ve always been passionate about these causes, and the unity of the nation to create national change inspired me to use my abilities to help fight for change however I can,” Santos said.
It’s worth noting that these student groups would likely not be possible, or at least not as successful, without the help of modern technology. The pandemic has caused countless aspects of life to go virtual, forcing many of us to adjust and adapt to communication and business online. The tech-savvy age that we live in has been of great benefit to those who want to see change in the world.
With the rise of these student groups, it is inspiring to see young people who want to improve the world around them. No actions are too small to make change, and these positive efforts demonstrate an invaluable kind of selflessness. Hopefully, these kinds of projects will continue to be driven by genuine care and concern, and have lasting impacts for the time to come.