Calif. Teen Assembles More than 150 Sanitation Kits for Community's Homeless Population
When high school sophomore Shaivi Shah realized just how vulnerable Los Angeles’ homeless population was to the coronavirus outbreak, she decided to take matters into her own hands.
The Tesoro High School student, from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, knew that it was a lack of sanitation and proper supplies that put the community at higher risk, and so she developed a homemade kit that would provide them with just that.
“They don’t have necessities right now that are crucial to remain clean and stay germ-free,” the teen told CNN.
Shaivi’s kits, which she describes on GoFundMe as low-cost and portable, are made up of hand sanitizer, hand soap, lotion and a homemade, reusable mask.
So far, Shaivi, 15, has delivered more than 150 kits to three Los Angeles homeless shelters, including the Family Assistance Ministry, the Salvation Army and Friendship Shelters, according to CNN.
“These people that are living on the streets, they have no protection, so even a small amount could help,” she told the outlet. “It’s important for people to step in and just do whatever they can, even if it helps just one person.”
Shaivi’s GoFundMe, which she organized to help expand her program throughout the state and the country, has so far raised nearly $9,000.
“Imagine yourself in their shoes, without a house, without clothes, without any sanitation,” she told CNN. “That’ll make you grateful for what you have, and possibly donate and do something good for the other people.”
She said she was initially inspired to start her program after hearing about California’s homeless problem in a speech by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Meanwhile, GoFundMe.org, the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, has launched a fundraiser that offers support for organizations and individuals affected by coronavirus, the platform said in a statement provided to PEOPLE on Friday.
“By donating to the GoFundMe.org general relief fund, the donation supports many individuals who have started fundraisers on GoFundMe related to this pandemic, and organizations dedicated to serving the people,” the company said. “Donations to the general relief fundraiser of GoFundMe.org, a United States charity, are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law, and will broadly support communities impacted by coronavirus.”
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Los Angeles has about 36,000 homeless people, more than 27,000 of whom are unsheltered, the Los Angeles Times reported, citing the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
Heidi Marston, the authority’s interim executive director, told the outlet that as of Tuesday, the county had not yet identified any coronavirus cases among the homeless population, but that officials plan to arrange motels, hotels and other sites for isolation when they do.
There are at least 876 confirmed coronavirus cases in California and 17 deaths as of Thursday afternoon, according to The New York Times. Throughout the country, there are at least 10,822 confirmed cases and 168 deaths, the Times reported.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.