Pathways students support hurricane victims

Cindy Liu, Asst. News Editor

After four short days of preparation and hours of collecting donations, a group of Diamond Bar High School Pathways students stood alongside members from the Vet Hunters Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping homeless veterans, as they watched a van filled with gathered emergency supplies leave for Puerto Rico.

The project, led by junior Pathways member Linda Beltran, was the first collaborative project between Pathways and the Vet Hunters Project. Just a few days before the end of the collecting drive, they worked to organize money donations and assorted items from DBHS students for Army Staff Sergeant Ailid Beckstrom to deliver to the veteran victims of the hurricane in Puerto Rico. Along the way, Beltran also filmed the process in an episode for the Pathways’ “Stampede.”

The idea first arose when Beltran and her Pathways class were discussing donating to the homeless for an episode of the Stampede. Beltran brought up the idea of donating to homeless veterans, having remembered talking with her veteran grandfather about the magnitude of veterans returning from war mentally ill, facing challenges securing jobs and ending up on the streets.

“My grandpa was very fortunate that he was able to come back and still get his college degrees and become a teacher and be successful in life,” Beltran said. “I felt like we needed to give back for what we were fortunate enough to have.”

After Beltran’s suggestion for donating to homeless veterans, she soon discovered that junior Karly Moreno’s grandmother was closely connected to the Vet Hunters Project.

“We were able to reach out to her, and she was able to get us the email and contact information for the leader of the organization,” Beltran said.

Asides from helping the victims of Puerto Rico, Beltran saw how the project impacted her peers who worked on the project alongside her.

“They were listening to the stories about the organization and what they do and their eyes were really opening,” Beltran said. “We live in such a great area that they didn’t really see what poverty looks like. It made them realize that not everyone is as lucky as they are.”
In their collaboration with the Vet Hunters Project, Beltran and her team assembled a variety of donations, ranging from pet food to batteries. Although there were a few contributions from other DBHS students, the majority of the donations came from Pathways. Additionally, the leader of the Vet Hunters Project had a storage container of clothes and shoes that supplemented the donations.

Due to the flyers and promotions the group put up regarding the donation, several Citrus College students also joined in on the effort, bringing donations and helping load supplies onto the van with the DBHS students and Veteran Hunters Project.

“We all had a good lesson that day and… an eye opening experience that’s going to last in our memories for a while,” Beltran said.