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Madison Metropolitan School District

Student-Led Red Cross Club Collecting Personal Care Items for Homeless Veterans

Tubes of toothpaste, bottles of body wash, and handfuls of hats are stacked high in the Totes of Hope donation bins at Memorial High School. The personal care drive, organized by the school’s American Red Cross club, will supply items to veterans experiencing homelessness during the holiday season. 

Memorial juniors and co-presidents of the club, Nitya Patil and Mihika Shivakumar, lead more than 50 student members, who are coming together to host the Totes of Hope drive. 

Club members designed posters and social media posts to promote the drive, which runs through Jan. 21. Staff, students, and community members are invited to donate new essential items such as toiletries, shower shoes, hats, gloves, men and women’s underwear, books, and more. 

“It feels good to be leading a club with an important purpose,” Patil said. “We’re doing something to make a positive difference not only in the school, but our local community as well.” 

Still in its inaugural year, the club was announced as the first American Red Cross high school club to surpass its volunteer hour goals in Wisconsin, club adviser Jeanette Burda said. 

“The girls are so organized, and know how to handle a group so well,” Burda said of Patil and Shivakumar. “They’ve done such a great job, and their motivation for this donation drive is so encouraging.”