Our June Volunteer Spotlight is Tejas – a sophomore at Linn-Mar High School who recently got involved with the Catherine McAuley Center through a canned food drive and fundraiser that he organized for COVID-19 relief. Tejas initially set out to complete the “1,000 Canned Goods Challenge”, and due to a few other common interests, he landed at CMC.
“My interest in helping immigrants and refugees in the area led me to do a little research about organizations that were supporting them,” he said, “I was looking for places to volunteer and the Catherine McAuley Center was a perfect place to do so.”
Collecting 1,000 canned food items is no small task, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. Networking can be difficult without ties to an organization, and many people were reluctant to meet up to drop off donations due to COVID-19 related concerns.
“Initially, the response was not that great, so I had to get help from the network my parents had and ask them to help spread the word,” Tejas said, “I shared the progress on social media, and I got more attention and support from the community.”
Fortunately, things picked up quickly once the fundraiser started circulating on social media. Tejas not only met his goal, but went above and beyond his initial target of 1,000 canned goods. Between in-kind and cash donations, Tejas ended up presenting the Catherine McAuley Center with 1,133 food items and an additional donation of $1,100.
“The success of the “1000 Canned Goods Challenge” was a big highlight (in my volunteer experiences). In addition to raising 1,000+ food items, we also raised $1,100. The overwhelming support from the community is proving that if we believe in a cause and are willing to work hard and lead, the community rises to the challenge and supports generously,” Tejas said, “I am very thankful to my parents and the community who have supported to make this fundraising a success, and I am looking forward to volunteering at the CMC in the coming years.”
Along with his activism and fundraising efforts, Tejas stays busy with both classes and extracurriculars at Linn-Mar High School. He enjoys science and math classes (particularly chemistry and biology), extracurriculars such as orchestra, choir, show choir, science club, and key club, and has been playing tennis with friends since the high school season was cancelled (all while social distancing, of course).
“I am just exploring options for my future and do not have any specific career in mind at this time,” he said regarding his plans after high school, “However, I seem to gravitate towards the legal field. Helping people fight for their rights looks very exciting.”
It’s been a privilege to get connected with Tejas over the past few weeks, and we look forward to his future involvement at CMC. There’s no doubt that he has great things ahead, and we hope to see some of them up close.
“I did not expect such a great response from the community, and I am happy and humbled with the support I have received for this fundraising,” Tejas said, reflecting on his fundraising success. “This experience has made my summer already a memorable one despite the COVID-19 challenges that we are facing.”