Group collects essential items for students

Candace Gyure (left), the head nurse at Hoover High School, is pictured next to Kylie Bach with a load of items ready for delivery. (courtesy photo)

Group collects essential items for students

By Ashley Shah

Kylie Bach and Madhavi Akella, both juniors at Scripps Ranch High School (SRHS), have begun helping the community in many different ways.

“Nobody should ever have to worry about how they will get their next meal, access sanitary products or where they will sleep at night. Covers for Lives works to have less members of our community ask those questions,” Akella said.

In March of 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, Bach and Akella held their first drive which included gathering hand sanitizer, food, bottled water and masks. All the items gathered were donated to Father Joe’s Village.

“We really wanted to give back in a time of need. We saw a part of our community that needed support. During our drive in March, we made over 250 homemade masks. We also shifted our focus to sanitary products because they were expensive and in high demand,” Akella said.

In July of 2020, they held another drive for essential items. These items included food, hand sanitizers and masks which were collected and donated to Father Joe’s Village.

“We were able to raise over $270 from this drive. We also gathered around 130 cans, 450 masks, 300 gloves and over 1,000 sanitary products,” Akella said.

In September 2020, the team learned about difficulties that San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) was facing.

“School districts have to provide sanitary products for students who attend  schools that meet the 40 percent poverty threshold. We learned that a lot of school districts, especially SDUSD, were having a hard time providing those sanitary products for those students – and we wanted to help,” Akella said.

As a result, Covers for Lives partnered with five other schools – Francis Parker Upper School, Bishops High School, Patrick Henry High School, Academy of Our Lady of Peace and University City High School – to hold a menstrual products drive in November of 2020.

“The drive in November was for the 8,000 students who are classified as homeless and thousands more who are classified as low income in the SDUSD. We were able to collect 20,500 pads and tampons for these students. This donation was the largest donation that the SDUSD has received during this time,” Akella said.

Covers for Lives partnered with Letters of Light, a club at SRHS, to put together care kits for foster kids in December 2020. The care kits included essential items such as lotion, wipes, toothpaste and toothbrushes.

“We donated 30 care kits to Olive Crest (foster family organization) and 70 care kits to the SDUSD to give to their homeless students,” Akella said.

Their most recent and on-going project is an essential items drive for the homeless and low-income students in the SDUSD. This drive will end on Feb. 15.

They are only accepting Venmo donations for this drive: @coversforlives.

“We are going to buy essential items such as toothpaste and toothbrushes for these students. We use the donations to buy these items in bulk quantities,” Akella said.

Besides being an organization, Covers for Lives is also a club at SRHS that has more than 30 members.

At SRHS, Akella is a part of the Peer Tutoring club and the Mock Trial club. Outside of school, she is an ambassador for The Pad Project and volunteers for The Alzheimer’s Project.

“The biggest goal this year is honestly to help as many people as possible. We want to really explore the impact that a group of high schoolers can have on their community,” Akella said.

Outside of Covers for Lives, Bach is a Red Cross Youth Volunteer and represents the Red Cross Club at SRHS as outreach chair. At SRHS, she is also part of the Peer Tutoring club and an event coordinator for the Girl Up club.

“We hope to further our relationship with the SDUSD and continue to keep working with them. Another thing we hope to do is to further the involvement of our club members in planning fundraisers and projects,” Bach said.