Ethan Auyeung, 15, of Los Gatos, Calif., a sophomore at Los Gatos High School, has provided more than 3,000 care packages for homeless and at-risk kids over the past few years, organized numerous activities for them, and worked to raise public awareness of the problem of youth homelessness. He vividly remembers the winter afternoon when he saw a boy emerge from a tent along a street. “I couldn’t help but notice that he was wearing worn-out clothes and his toes were poking from his tattered sneakers,” said Ethan. “His eyes were filled with hopelessness.” That disturbing image prompted Ethan to look into the issue of homelessness. “I was shocked to learn the magnitude of the problem among children and youth,” he said.
His reaction was to launch a multidimensional initiative aimed at ultimately ending the cycle of poverty and homelessness in his generation. He set about raising nearly $40,000 and recruiting 300 volunteers to assemble care packages containing hygiene and clothing items, school supplies and snacks. He then set up several pantries to distribute them. Ethan also has designed inspirational craft activities for at-risk kids, hosted an essay contest, taught more than 50 computer coding classes, published newsletters, and delivered dozens of speeches to motivate young people in need and educate his community about homelessness. “My mission is not simply to provide care packages, but also to be the voice of children and youth in underserved communities,” said Ethan.