Searching online for a way to help Texans who were slammed by Hurricane Harvey last month, Zoe Malin, a North Shore High School senior, came across Brené Brown, a research professor at the University of Houston.
Malin read that Brown and her family were helping out at a shelter on behalf of Undies for Everyone, a nonprofit organization that provides underwear for disadvantaged students. Brown had noted that there was a shortage of diapers and underwear in Harvey-ravaged east Texas, and that inspired Malin to take up the cause.
“Even when we experienced Hurricane Sandy, I had no idea that such basic items like that are crucially needed,” Malin said. “We’re a community that has a lot of families, so I thought that if I put this message out there, I could get a lot of responses.”
Malin, 17, of Sea Cliff, began her own diapers-and-underwear drive shortly after Harvey hit, at a bakery in the Sea Cliff Farmers Market called To Be Gluten Free. She also got the word out by making posters and promoting the drive on local group pages on Facebook. And with the approval of North Shore Principal Albert Cousins, she put up posters at school and made a donation box for her fellow students’ contributions. So far she has collected well over 100 pounds’ worth of donations.
“Zoe’s hard work and compassion for others is a cornerstone for everything North Shore values,” Cousins said. “We are so proud of her initiative and selflessness.”
This month, people have reached out to Malin on Facebook, and parents have offered their support as well. “I’m so impressed by everybody who’s helped me get to this point,” she said. “People are so giving, appreciative, and they’ve done everything they can to make this successful. I think that speaks to the level of commitment that people have for helping others in a time of need, especially in our community.”
Malin has contacted the Texas Diaper Bank, a San Antonio organization that collects diapers for families in need. Representatives thanked her via email for her contributions. “It was pretty incredible that I got such a personal email from an organization like this,” she said. “They’re so grateful for everybody’s help.”
She added that Sea Cliff Mayor Ed Lieberman, whom she met in March, had offered advice on setting up her drive. He, in turn, said that Malin inspires him and her peers to be active members of their community.
“She’s really shown her perseverance through the amount of people that she’s touched with her outreach,” Lieberman said. “That’s what we all aspire to. When you see this kind of support from our youth, you know it’s surreal.”
Malin’s drive will conclude at the Sea Cliff Mini Mart this Sunday, an annual street fair, which usually attracts hundreds of residents. She hopes to tip the scales with over 200 pounds in donations.
“I hope to show people that anyone can make a difference, even in the smallest way,” she said. “You don’t have to make a huge drive like I did, but if you can donate anything that you don’t need, that can make a huge difference for someone in need.”