St. Pius, St. Rose students support veterans
Homelessness is a problem for many veterans.
They can be couch surfing with friends or family members, living in shelters or on the streets, or simply just don’t have a place to stay beyond a month or two.
However, thanks to students at St. Pius X High School and St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, having the basic necessities of living is a problem that is being addressed.
On Thursday, students at St. Pius packed a van from the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program through Volunteers of America-Texas. After gathering so much stuff - including clothes, toiletries, sleeping bags, blankets and backpacks - a second van was needed to help with the overflow of collections.
Sophomore Nina Martinez is the president and founder of St. Pius X High School’s Students Serving Soldiers group. Currently the group has about 55 members. It is the second such drive to collect items for veterans this year. The first ended in January, with those donations being taken to Killeen, home of Fort Hood.
“Our drive had just ended and Channel 13 did a story,” Martinez said. ”(Darryl Harper) heard about us … he wanted to team up with us.”
Darryl Harper is the HVRP outreach coordinator in Houston.
“People just go through dressers and gather stuff,” Martinez said. In the first drive this year, a Boy Scout member “went to his troop leader and they gave us a boatload of stuff.”
Not all donations are second-hand goods.
“We had a lot of brand new clothes,” Martinez said. “Someone brought in a bunch of jeans with tags still on them.”
For its part, St. Pius supports the philanthropic efforts of its students.
“We are really open to student ideas for new organizations,” said Principal Diane Larsen. “They find a sponsor interested in the organization.”
The support offered by the school includes putting out notices and making announcements, but the students are the ones driving the needs of any particular group.
St. Pius supports numerous drives in the school - a food drive around Thanksgiving, a toy drive at Christmas and a diaper drive, to name a few.
For his part, Harper is happy to have the donated goods to help out local homeless veterans. There is a “returning home” event for the veteran population scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at the United Way at 50 Waugh Dr, Houston, TX 77007.
For more information on the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, go to www.voatx.org/houston.
For more information on St. Pius X High School, go to www.stpiusx.org. For info on St. Rose of Lima Catholic School, go to www.stroselima.org.