Student group Political Latinxs United for Movement and Action in Society is sponsoring a donation drive that will deliver toiletries to the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington. Because of the violence in Central America, children are fleeing their homes and coming to the United States without family to support them.
Catholic Charities' wants to welcome unaccompanied minors by creating welcome packs to help identify their needs and find solutions as they are in the United States temporarily or for a long amount of time, according to catholiccharities.org.
Rachel Smith, an individual studies major, said the donations will go to child migrants who currently live in Washington.
"Personally, I think that a lot of people knew that there was a surge of child migrants in the summer of 2014, but then people seemed to have forgotten about them," said Smith, PLUMAS community service vice president. "We are doing this to draw attention to the kids who still need help."
PLUMAS has collected enough toiletries so far to create 20 kits for the child migrants, Smith said, each kit containing a variety of items ranging from deodorant to socks. The donation drive will end by next Tuesday before finals start, said Dennys Amaya, a junior public health science major.
Because PLUMAS has traditionally focused on advocacy, members are trying to make their organization more community-oriented, Smith said.
"We are trying to do more things for the community, the Latinx and the immigrant community because sometimes people can forget who is in our own backyard … in this case, the Central American community," Smith said.
Though PLUMAS is spearheading the donation drive, Ana Patricia Rodriguez, a Spanish and Portuguese department professor, wanted to contribute as well, she said.
"[We] in this area are the receivers of a large community of Latinos, especially Central Americans," Rodriguez said.
Washington, Los Angeles and New York have more than one-third of all Central American immigrants, according to a 2012 Pew Hispanic Center report.
Rodriquez always stars off the semester by taking about an issue that is close to the campus, such as the child migrant crisis. "In my [SPAN408T] class we study about Central America and the struggles they go through, so when someone in my class brought up this idea that PLUMAS was doing, I encouraged my class to donate," Rodriguez said.
Motivated to contribute to the drive, Maureen Wrightson, a junior Spanish and secondary education major, said she felt that she had to give something.
"These kids have already gone through a lot, and to come out of wherever they are and not have the basic needs is unacceptable," Wrightson said.
Beyond donating items, Wrightson also helped raise awareness about the drive by reaching out to her friends and family.
"I went home to talk to my mom and asked her to spread the word … so we collected many things that would help these kids out," she said.
Though the drive has been going on since the beginning of April 6, PLUMAS plans to hold more donation drives like this one, Amaya said, adding that, "Hopefully PLUMAS can make this a yearly thing as there is a need for welcome kits for unaccompanied minors."
Hosting a drive like this will cause other campus organizations to become more aware of the issue, Amaya added.
"I feel that other organizations outside of the Latinx community should be involved because as a community we have to work together to make unaccompanied minors feel welcome," he said. "[Child migrants] are not here by choice, but many times because their lives depended on it. As a community we should be involved in making them feel welcome and integrated."