In room B-17 at Dearborn High School, Rima Hassan knows that many of the 15 or so students that are planning charitable projects to help people affected by the local economy may in fact be part of families that are struggling themselves this holiday season.
Hassan, a language arts and psychology instructor at the school, mentors the student-run “GirlTalk” group, which aims to help people in the community throughout the year. And in the past month or so, the group has sold candy, collected donations and made provisions to donate toiletries, games, and coloring books to vulerable people recieving services and assistance at Vista Maria, a nonprofit outreach center in Dearborn Heights.
Club members also made sure that each of the 150 residents, all of whom are victims of abuse, that are currently at Vista Maria receive a holiday cards and candy cane.
“The girls wanted to show support for those at Vista Maria,” said Hassan. “They’re curious, and even if they don’t have a lot themselves, they recognize that can give a little to help people in the community.”
Vista Maria keeps a lit of needed items on their online "Wish List," which helped GirlTalk members decide how to proceed.
“The Wish List Program gives each of our children a chance to have the Christmas morning every child deserves—boxes and bags filled with fun presents," says Angela Aufdemberge, President and CEO of Vista Maria. "By far, the best gift the boys and girls get through the Holiday Wish List Program is knowing that someone in the community, complete strangers no less, cares enough about them to make sure they get that special Christmas."
GirlTalk, which incidentally also has male participants, engages in giving all year round; they raised $150 to purchase the cards and toiletries for Vista Maria. Year-round several organizations receive donations, including Children’s Hospital of Michigan, which will receive books from the club in time for the holidays. The club also chooses a charity to benefit from year-round activities; this year, it’s Girl Up, which is a campaign of the United Nations Foundation aimed at teaching girls leadership skills through supportive programs.
Lana Younis, 16 and a senior at Dearborn, said it’s easy to make the decision to help others.
“We were on Vista Maria’s website, and it said there were 150 people there that needed help,” she said. “We wanted to make sure that they know that there’s someone out there that cares and wants to help out.”
Aaliyah Boyd, a 17-year-old senior, agreed.
“It’s really important to help other people out who are having a tough time,” she said. “There are a lot of things that they needed at Vista Maria. There’s a lot of need in our community right now.”
Doing Good in Dearborn Schools: Watch for more stories about how Dearborn students are making a difference in their community every day this week.