South­west stu­dent sac­ri­fices quinceañera to do­nate socks

Imperial Valley Press - - FRONT PAGE - BY VIN­CENT OSUNA Staff Writer

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

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