This week’s community heroes are the members of Bee The Hope, an organization run by students from Granada Hills Charter High School with a practical and pragmatic approach to combating homelessness in Los Angeles.
Students hosted a shoe drive in Northridge that collected over 500 pairs of shoes for the homeless on April 24. The shoes were then distributed to a Hope of the Valley thrift store, a Shoes for the Homeless dropoff center and the Tiny Homes village in North Hollywood.
“We focus on execution and getting stuff out … we just want to like, do something that really impacts the community and sets ourselves differently than everyone else,” said founder and president of Bee The Hope, Nirvan Rayamajhi.
The shoes donated ranged in size, type, color and quality, with several high-quality brands like Air Jordan, Nike and Vans among the collection.
“We stressed not to bring in too many torn-up shoes, not in terrible quality,” said Bee The Hope member, Arthur Mkrtchyan.
Shoes aren’t the only ways these students want to help the homeless. The organization has also done clothing and book drives, handed out hygiene products, and even wrote birthday cards for children whose families are struggling with homelessness.
According to the Los Angeles Homelessness Services Authority, the number of unhoused individuals in L.A. for 2020 increased by over 20,000 since 2018. The number of unhoused youth in the Northridge area has risen to 1,138, which is up from 689 in 2019.
“We noticed that as the pandemic is going on, so is poverty, because a lot of people are losing jobs, they can’t pay for their rent, stuff like that,” said Secretary of Bee The Hope Dakota Duran. “Shoes are really expensive these days. It’s kind of hard to get a good pair and when you’re homeless, you wanna try and find a job, so you need nice shoes. That’s our main thought process when we thought about this.”
Duran said that the group’s organizational experience from their previous events helped lead to both the scale and success of this project.
One of these events was a Christmas card and toy drive that donated the majority of its donations to children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“They’re separated from their families, some kids don’t even have parents, so it’s kind of hard for them to have a good Christmas,” Duran said. “We wanted to make sure a lot of our toys and hand-made cards go there.”
Members of Bee The Hope expressed passion for their work and stressed that they weren’t in this for personal gain, but to help the community.
“Anything to help,” Mkyrtchyan said. “I’m not looking at it for a college thing, I’m not looking at it just for hours, or looking good on transcripts or things. This is something to help the community for real. So this is the best way to give back for things like that and it’s a great way to really help and give back to our local community.
For more information on Bee The Hope and to see what events they’ll be doing in the future, visit their Facebook page.