Memorial, Nederland student leaders using their hearts to help homeless

Published 12:40 am Sunday, January 16, 2022

A group of high school students from Port Arthur and Nederland are looking to lend a helping hand to those experiencing homelessness in the area.

The 10 students, five from each school district, are part of Youth Leadership of Southeast Texas. The partners looked for a service project to take on together but didn’t need to look far.

Jesus Saucedo Bucio, a senior at Memorial, said parts of the city, such as downtown and 9th Avenue, are starting to look almost like crisis areas.

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“Our goal is to actually make care packages for them and offer resources to get them back on their feet,” Bucio said. “We are trying to get hygiene products… what any human being requires for life.”

The groups are looking to collect toiletry items including toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, baby wipes, face towels and sanitary napkins.

Front row, Ava Wiltz, Ryla Prevost, Clancy Prakash Moses, Thao Yen Nhi Pham and Carte Concienne. Back row, James Addison III, Zayne Yoakum, Faith Guidry, Jesus Saucedo Bucio and Payton Rawlinson. (Courtesy photo)

The group also wants to offer resources, including direction for youth in the community who are part of the homeless population and guide them to the educational system.

When Bucio sees those experiencing homelessness he sees them as his neighbors, fellow human beings and part of the community who haven’t been met with the same benefits as others.

He believes some people are bothered by homeless individuals and the homeless are there by choice.

“Some are not there by choice. It’s actually by chance,” he said, noting how the pandemic and evictions may have contributed.

Nadria Turner, Memorial High activities director, was a liaison when the students attended the leadership seminar last year. She is working with the Port Arthur students and is proud of what they are doing and of how Hearts for the Homeless began.

“I’m really proud and impressed with the students. They birthed this project and made sure to do everything to make it a success,” she said.

Port Arthur and Nederland students are reaching out to others of their cause. Some contacted city leaders and businesses. And campuses in those districts will also help collect donations.

Brandy Roy, Nederland High School assistant principal, called Hearts for the Homeless an amazing project.

“It’s huge, and what I love about it is it was from their hearts; Hearts for the Homeless, and they all have heart for this project,” Roy said. “To me that means a lot: to say our youth are thinking about being selfless and thinking about others.”

Nederland High School student Clancy Prakash Moses is one of five students who are part of the project on her campus.

“I feel honored to be part of something that could make a difference for at least one person,” Moses said.

The first opportunity to donate the requested items is during the Memorial Titans vs. Nederland Bulldogs basketball game Tuesday in Port Arthur.

A second chance for donations occurs when Nederland hosts the game against Memorial at the Dog Dome on Feb. 11.

The groups plan to bring donations to the Hospitality Center in Port Arthur at a later date to be dispersed to those in need.

Participating PAISD students include Ryla Prevost, Zayne Yoakum, James Addison III, Faith Guidry and Jesus Saucedo Bucio.

Participating NISD students include Ava Wiltz, Payton Rawlinson, Carter Concienne, Clancy Prakash Moses and Thao Yen Ni (Claire) Phan.