Ethan Auyeung, 15, of Los Gatos, California, a sophomore at Los Gatos High School, has provided nearly 3,800 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 raised nearly $40,000 and recruited 350 volunteers to assemble care packages containing hygiene and clothing items, school supplies and snacks. He then set up nine pantries to distribute them, and established partnerships with nonprofits to increase his reach. Ethan also has designed inspirational craft activities for at-risk kids, hosted an essay contest, organized care package-packing events, taught more than 50 computer coding classes and trained leaders to do the same, 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.