Issues of homelessness in Ames raised at panel discussion
Chuck Lyon, Brett Seelman, Ben Murphy, and Kelsey Gent put the finishing touches on their cardboard box mansion Tuesday April 7, 2009. They are apart of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and are raising funds to help support local homeless shelters.

After a life of volunteering, Leanne Carrasco took her high school graduation party in another direction.

She chose to spend her graduation party throwing “a pizza party at a homeless shelter for women and children in Houston, Texas.” She ordered 95 pizzas and made goody bags for those she was catering to.

Carrasco tirelessly planned for the party and even got some of her friends to join in on giving back to the community instead of following the traditional festivities.

An article from CNN reads, “In the month leading up to the party they collected toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand wipes and deodorant. They packed them into 400 hygiene bags to hand out to residents of the shelter.”

Not only did this young woman feel the selfless need to provide a warm meal to those who are less fortunate, she got her fellow classmates to join in with this deed as well — and she provided some goods that some might not have had.

Typically, graduating students and their parents save up money to pay for a party in celebration of the senior. They spend a ton of time and money on this event to celebrate the student's graduation from high school. In some communities, surviving high school can be a first for some families.

Carrasco and her friends served about 200 people at their party.

"It was a very magical day," Scott Arthur, a spokesman for Star of Hope, said. "It gives you a hope for the youth of today. [The high schoolers] were able to think of other people."”

I think that this is a great way to remember graduation from high school. Doing something as large a gesture as this — helping those less fortunate in the community — should become something people do more often.

At the end of her “graduation party”, Carrasco stated, “I think you should always know you're lucky to have what you have. Don't take that for granted and continue to give."

With this feeling in mind, let's all take the free time we have during the summer to try and give back to the community.Even if you're busy during this summer and, of course, the school year, find some time to do anything you can. Whether that's volunteering at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving, wrapping Christmas gifts for Toys for Tots or even replicating Carrasco's idea of turning your graduation parties into an event to help others, anything is better than nothing.

There are so many things we can do, and no matter how much time you give, I'm sure it will be appreciated. 

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