Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – The Shirts on Our Backs

Name: Chiamaka Nwadike
From: Hercules, California
Grade: 12
School: Hercules High School
Votes: 0

Shirts on Our Backs

My readiness to help others stems from my mother’s selflessness. I
remember being with my mother at her clinic in Nigeria because I was
too young to attend school. Although I was young, I understood that
profit from the clinic helped sustain my family while my father was
paralyzed from a motorcycle accident. I recall a moment when a crying
woman with her baby came into our clinic begging my mom for medicine
for her baby. My mother offered her the medicine for free. The
resulting conversation from my questions changed my way of thinking
at a young age.

I strive to apply my mother’s benevolent philosophy in everything
that I do. My inclination to help others led me to join my school’s
community service club my freshman year. I participated in events
such as pink lemonade stands for Breast Cancer and library book
sales. There were many events I wished my club participated in during
past years, when I was elected Vice President my senior year, I saw
it as an opportunity to take action.

I’ve always been passionate for the social problem concerning providing
basic necessities for all people. I find it sick that our society
capitalizes on basic human needs such as clothing. We make it
socially unacceptable to be naked, but we charge thousands of dollars
to provide clothing that hides our nakedness. There are families
unable to provide new, stylish clothing for their children because
they’re too busy providing for a more pressing necessity, food. I
drew from my passion for this problem and organized a clothing drive
at my school.

Organizing the clothing drive was very hard to do because our school had never
held a clothing drive before. I first did research and decided that
we would donate however many pounds of clothing collected to our
local shelter. I worked day and night advertising and finding
companies to donate boxes. After figuring out the logistics of the
clothing drive, I had to deal with the separate battle of getting my
school to participate.

Fortunately, we collected over 100 pounds of clothing in order to donate. We had a
large collection of baby clothes, shoes, shirts, and dresses.
Watching my project become a reality in my community was a surreal
feeling. Working with my club members in sorting and weighing the
clothes fulfilled me beyond description. I thought of every mother
that could provide clothing for her children, or a man finding better
shoes for a job interview.

After the clothing drive, I was able to walk through the campus with my
head held high and my posture a bit better because I knew I was a
part of something bigger. I was happy that someone’s life somewhere
was made better because of my help. The feeling of putting others
before myself validates the future activist in me. It makes me feel a
little bit powerful, as if I can fix every injustice in the world,
one small act of kindness at a time.

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