Southwest student sacrifices quinceañera to donate socks
EL CENTRO — Having a quinceañera was something Hailey Contreras had been looking forward to all year.
On Sunday, Hailey celebrated her 15th birthday — yet instead of enjoying a coming-of-age celebration as most girls do, she decided to use the funds she would’ve used for her quince to help those less fortunate.
The just-turned 15-year-old purchased over 700 pairs of socks to donate towards her high school’s annual Socktober charity drive, in which socks are collected and donated towards local organizations that help those in need.
“I decided to give it up because one little dance party wouldn’t be worth the amount of people I could help out. I kept thinking I want to make a huge donation to my community with the money, and I thought about all the people who don’t have socks,” explained Hailey, a sophomore at Southwest High School.
The 15-year-old helped her school surpass its original goal of collecting 800 pairs. A total of 1,547 pairs were collected after the drive’s three-week collection period, which began Oct. 9 and ended Friday. Last year, the donation event drew in 671 pairs of socks.
While the Southwest sophomore had no knowledge of the drive existing last year, having a quince was something she had been expecting to have since the beginning of the year. Though, she had a change of mind after hearing about the event for the first time only a month ago.
“I was really ready to have one. I was going to let all my friends know. Then in September, I was questioning myself, ‘What if I don’t use my quinceañera money and just helped out,’” recalled Hailey on her decision.
“My mother was a bit startled at first. We talked about it for a while and she then came to realize it’s just how I naturally act and just encouraged it,” said the sophomore, who then began ordering hundreds of socks at a time through websites such as Amazon and collected her total amount in a matter of weeks.
While she isn’t involved in any extracurricular activities that involve charity work, the 15-year-old tries to help out in the community whenever the opportunity arises.
“I love to benefit anyone at any time. I think about how much people aren’t as lucky as me and don’t have that ability to give to others. I think if we help people in need, then they could get back on their feet, then they could help out society,” stated Hailey.
The drive was organized in collaboration between
Southwest’s FFA, culinary arts, HOSA and Yearbook/ graphic arts classes.
Students from each of the four classes promoted the event and either purchased socks themselves or asked family and/or friends to donate.
Overseeing the charity event was Southwest’s HOSA advisor and ROP Dental Assistant instructor Jackie Valadez.
Hailey’s graphic design teacher Deidre DuBose was the first to see the numerous bags of socks. The 15-yearold arrived to school early and brought along some friends to help carry the bags, recalled DuBose.
“It was shocking, but it was awesome that a student wanted to be so generous,” said DuBose on Hailey’s donation.
Since the school begun hosting the drive last year, neither DuBose nor Valadez has seen a student make a donation as large as the one Hailey made.
Looking to begin a community service activity for students, Valadez was inspired along with other school staff to get involved in the Socktober drive through a video from the YouTube channel Kid President.
“Most people don’t realize that socks are one of the most needed items at homeless shelters. Also, by introducing students to the opportunity to give back, we’re instilling leadership skills and their ability to take initiatives and show compassion, which is our motto at Central Union High School District,” noted Valadez on the importance
students participating in the drive.
CUHSD Superintendent Renato Montaño was highly supportive of what Socktober has brought to the school.
“It is the philosophy of the district that the future of our nation and community depends on students possessing the skills to be lifelong learners and effective, contributing members of society,” said Montaño. “This worthy gesture exemplifies the values possessed by our students, staff, parents and members of our school community. This charitable act also illustrates how our school community comes together selflessly to make a difference in the community when others are in need of love and support.”
The 1,547 pairs will be distributed to a number of places, including Brawley Union High School’s Village program, which provides for students in need of clothing, the Cal-SAFE program, Spread the Love Charity in El Centro and northern California agencies serving those affected by the recent wildfires.
When asked if sacrificing her one-in-a-lifetime celebration was worth the donation, Hailey assured it was a decision she was completely certain about.
“Of course it was worth it, definitely. Whether they’re used in our shelters or anywhere else, it’s still helping someone. Even if I could donate only one pair of socks instead of 700, I would still do it because it’s still helping,” reflected the 15-year-old.
Southwest High student Hailey Contreras, 14, poses with bags of socks she donated for the school's annual Socktober charity drive event on Friday afternoon at Southwest High School in El Centro. VINCENT OSUNA PHOTO
Southwest High student Hailey Contreras, 14, looks through bags of socks she donated for the school's annual Socktober charity drive event on Friday afternoon at Southwest High School in El Centro. VINCENT OSUNA PHOTO