In this holiday season, members of The People Project at Modesto High committed themselves to spreading the gift of giving. The People Project consists of student volunteers who donate their time to offer compassion across their school and community.
Sara Coito, a former Modesto High student, developed The People Project her senior year. “I wanted the members of the club to be able to look around them everywhere they went and realize how simple it is to give love.” Coito aspired to really affect others and developed the idea of handing out gift bags to the homeless. The bags included warm clothing, healthful snacks, socks and toiletry items.
“The purpose of this project is to give lonely and in-need members of our community, as well as ourselves, a view of how much we can do locally,” said Shelly Coito, a Modesto High teacher, Sara’s mother and adviser to the club. Homeless people face multiple obstacles that many of the rest of us don’t understand because we can’t relate to their situations.
Juniors Krupa Modi and I were inspired by this idea and decided to take on the club after Sara Coito as co-presidents. “People Project is different from other clubs on campus because we focus on delivering empathy not only through our service in the community but through ourselves,” said Modi. “I enjoy every bit of the club because every project we do instills in us the ability to connect ourselves to others.”
Social networking was used to reach out to others to gain support and donations in the yearly distribution of care packages.
On Dec. 21, about 30 care packages were put together by 11 club participants using donations from parents of members and outside organizations. Donated items included basic necessities such as warm sweat shirts, two pairs of socks, gloves, hats, water bottles, fruit, crackers, homemade sandwiches, toiletry items, first-aid kits and candy canes.
The items were placed in reusable, eco-friendly paper bags. Students also wrote personalized letters of encouragement to cheer up those without families to celebrate with this season. “Assembling packages was a great experience for me. I was able to have fun while serving the community. It was almost as great as seeing the smiles on the men and women’s faces when they opened them,” said junior Venice Nomof.
That afternoon, the students hit the streets of Modesto to distribute the packages. The response of the people to the effort was heartwarming. “They reacted as you and I would if we were placed in the same situation: with gratitude and happiness,” Sara Coito said. “So often do we forget that this act is purely taking care of our fellow human beings and that they are exactly like us.”
Club member Jaskirat Gaelan added, “Handing the packages reminded me that the ultimate reason we live is to survive, and it is important we help others to do the same in this process of life.”
The care packages were distributed in downtown Modesto, parks and parking lots. Jennifer Zhou was quick to say how excited she was to be taking part in the day’s efforts. “I felt great realizing that we made someone’s day by giving the packages to people who need them the most.”
Like children on Christmas, those opening the packages grinned from ear to ear. “It was incredible to get the opportunity to work together as a group and create these useful care packages and hand them out as a goal to look out for everyone in our community,” said junior Premjot Saroya.