From Dec. 18 to Jan. 1, the Minority Scholars Program (MSP) club hosted a winter coat drive to donate to the homeless around D.C.. MSP club members plan to take the donations to the District now that the drive has ended, specifically to nonprofit organization Thrive DC.
Other than new or used coats, new or used hats, scarves, gloves, blankets, and sleeping bags were also collected in rooms 231 and 248 during lunch. New thermals, men’s underwear, and socks were accepted as well. The drive was publicized through announcements, fliers, social media, and word of mouth.
“The Minority Scholars Program is a country-wide organization dedicated to closing the opportunity gap for students and supporting the underserved members of our community,” the student president of MSP, senior Shazia Ahmed, said.
English teacher Mellownie Ho, who took over as MSP sponsor this year, has a strong belief in the importance of furthering this purpose. “It is important to teach people about the existence of the opportunity gap even though it’s uncomfortable and reveals the unfortunate truth about our educational institutions that, in theory, are supposed to make sure all students have equal access to resources, support and guidance. Without this knowledge, we can’t fix these problems and without this knowledge, too many students of color start to believe these negative myths about themselves and people who look like them,” Ho said.
The drive’s purpose was to further this goal, and Ahmed hopes to make it an annual event.
“[By] bringing the coat drive to Wootton, we are bringing everyone together for an amazing mission and to help those in need,” MSP member, sophomore Hannah Mirza, said.
Prior to the coat drive, MSP has hosted other events to promote their vision. “We have done food drives in the past and are working to find more charities that directly align with our mission and purpose. We wanted to do the coat drive since it addresses a local need for a vulnerable population but in the future we’d like to collect school supplies or donate money to other groups who have the same mission as us,” Ho said.
Despite the drive being new to the school, turnout was good, enough to fill about two bags, or around 20 coats. “We may have lost some donations to other drives happening simultaneously, but I am happy with the turnout for our first drive,” Ahmed said.
MSP sent four members to Cabin John to involve students there. “I went to [Cabin John] to share with them the goals of MSP and include them in the drive,” Mirza said.
Four bags of coats, or around 20 coats, were collected from Cabin John. “After knowing that disparities in opportunity exist, the next step is doing what you can in order to alleviate this issue,” Ho said.