It began with an idea for a school project: to collect donations for the people of Houston following Hurricane Harvey.
"I wanted to do something to help out,” said Stella Eliopoulos. “We collected stuff like canned food, perishable foods, toiletries and clothing, we got a good amount of stuff, I was really surprised at the amount that we got.”
There was just one problem for the Medford High School senior, whose project was part of the school’s Center for Citizenship and Social Responsibility program. The program teaches students about becoming global leaders.
“We didn’t really plan out the details as well as we could have,” the 17-year-old said. "We actually had so much stuff we didn’t have sufficient funds as a non-profit to ship it all down. It would be too expensive.”
After calling around to countless organizations for help and watching the donations just sit there for six weeks, there was just one thing to do.
“We decided you know if there’s no other way to get it down there, we’d have to drive them down ourselves so we rented out a U-Haul,” said the teen.
So Stella and her dad packed up the truck and took it all down to a church and distribution center in Houston, a trip for which she is grateful.
“I was really able to see the actual devastation,” said Eliopoulos. "It was good to see the difference I was making.”
The U-Haul rental, the trip down South and the plane tickets back to Boston cost about $2,500. That money came out of pocket so now Stella is trying to fundraise to recoup some of the costs.