Creativity and Care Packages: New Definitions of Volunteering


WeCare DTX members gather around creating care packages

Volunteers from the clubs WeCare and She’s the First gathered around hundreds of ziploc bags; these packages are filled with ordinary items like toothbrushes, sanitary products, even teddy bears. Volunteers dealt with chaos throughout the process–filled bags went missing, dolls ran short–but the thought of shelter children’s smiles in the end canceled out the unease. The items were simple, everyday objects for many North Texas youth, but one toothbrush, one coloring book, or one teddy bear donated could be the difference between hope and misery for a refugee. 

Plano West students established these projects as small, but tangible services they could provide to support larger rescue efforts locally and around the world. WeCare founder Ahan Mukherjee saw a need in local hospitals and found a way to help.

“In 2021 during the COVID pandemic, seeing mental effects on first responders when hospitals we’re flooded with a deadly disease led me to create WeCare,” said Mukherjee, junior. “It is tailored to support first responders and healthcare workers.”

Mukherjee and other WeCare officers like Nooria Ali, 11, were aware that the complicated mental toll on first responders was not an easy issue with easy solutions, but they made it their mission to contribute however they could. These small gestures provided much-needed mental support to front-line workers.

“First responders ride in this ambulance all day and try to be there for severely ill people, but who’s there making sure that they can do it?” Ali said. “At times like this, a snack bar or even a water bottle with a thank you note can be that tiny push and warmth they need.”

Since its launch in 2021, WeCare has evolved into supporting different groups of disadvantaged people across the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Their latest project created 100 packages for families in the refugee shelters. More than 40 volunteers and donors provided toys and educational materials for Afghan refugee children. In return, the volunteers experienced the satisfaction of making a tangible difference.

Members of WeCare DTX gather toys to donate to young refugee children as holiday approaches.

“Instead of focusing on the things themselves, we see it as a symbol of hope,” Ali said. “Volunteering one shift at shelters does give your time for sure, but then you go home and it’s over. With the little seed of hope, you give not only your time, but your thoughts, effort, and money. Hope sometimes can last forever.”

Another organization, She’s The First, is an international initiative which aims to help improve women’s socio-economic status through counseling, educational resources, and hygiene drives. Recently, the Plano West chapter of She’s The First organized care packages for earthquake victims in Syria and Turkey. 

“The Syrian earthquake was really, really deadly. And so many people are still trapped under rubble, facing the repercussions of this earthquake,” Sarayu Bellary, 11, said. “We took on a project to allocate $200 for hygiene supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo and especially feminine hygiene products because they are such essential needs for women.”

In the end, She’s The First and Helping Hands, a relief and development non-profit, donated more than 40 essential resource packages for the women and children who live an ocean away.

She’s The First members create supportive letters to refugees after the devastating Syrian-Turkey earthquake.

The new initiative of donating and distributing resources instead of physical volunteering allows students to contribute their services beyond geographic barriers. With student’s busy schedules and short-term commitments to volunteering shifts, She’s The First and WeCare gives students opportunities to move from traditional volunteering shifts to more long-lasting impact in the same amount of time.

“I think volunteering at shelters is helpful for sure, but then you go home and it’s over. With the care packages you give not only your time, but your thoughts, effort, and money, and you create something that can potentially last forever,” Ali said.  

Volunteers become not only helpers of relief but as a symbol of hope, such experience creates a unique sense of fulfillment when they harvest the smiles on the strangers faces. 

“When we got the pictures back from the shelter, I was so happy to see all the smiling children and the families that were helped by our small packages,” Ali said.