Nguyen sisters start Homeless Outreach Program


Jenna Ho-Sing-Loy, Sports Editor

Megan Estanol (12), Ashley Zhang (12), Armita Fazel (11) and Tiki Phung (12) fold magazines into origami boxes to hold the Homeless Outreach Program’s soaps, Aug. 30.

In 2016, Norah and Hannah Nguyen (12) stood in a downtown shelter handing out clothes and meals to homeless families.  They were approached by a mother and two daughters who were waiting to get food.  Norah recalls one of the daughters turning down the meal and instead walked over to the canned goods and slipped a can into her pocket when she thought no one was looking—she wasn’t much younger than Norah herself.  

“I had no idea what was running through her head because all the food was free,” Norah said. “But, I think it was a huge moment for me because that’s such a difficult situation to be put in and it easily could’ve been any one of us.” 

Throughout their lives, Norah and Hannah have cared about their community and loved to help the less fortunate. Growing up, the two volunteered at different organizations, many started by family friends,  to feed the homeless and supply them with clothes.  

This summer, Norah and Hannah wanted to take their involvement a step further and decided to create their own Homeless Outreach Program. 

“We took a lot of time at the beginning of quarantine to bounce around the idea of this project actually happening because of the dangerous situation,” Norah said. “We figured [the project] was a fun way to safely volunteer and give back to the less fortunate.”  

 Through this, the sisters hosted a clothing drive at Hilltop Park, July 25 where they collected 35 black trash bags worth of clothes from friends, family, and strangers.  Their fundraising group stayed out in the park for four hours accepting donations and even sent team members to pick up clothes at the houses of friends who didn’t feel comfortable going in public to donate.  

“Hannah and I honestly were not expecting too much,” Norah said.  “But it was a really exciting accomplishment to have such a huge turnout.” 

The sisters spent the next day washing all of the donations and sorting them into two piles—one for the Salvation Army and one for Serving Seniors.  They also set up a GoFundMe page to buy materials to make products for fundraiser, which has raised over $150 for the program.  

For their next project, the Outreach Program is making and selling soaps to raise money for the Friends and Family Community Connection (FFCC) and San Diego Rescue Mission.  

While the idea of selling soaps as fundraising items isn’t typical, Norah said that they connect to her family’s immigration story.  

“My uncle sold soaps to get the money to come to America,” she said.  “Hannah and I really wanted to make soaps because of that, but it turned into a great idea for our fundraising team.”  

That team, consisting of the sisters and volunteers from Westview, is still in the process of creating the soaps, but hopes to be able to start selling them within a few weeks for roughly $4 each. Currently, the soaps are decorated with fake flowers and glitter and have either a lavender or mango scent.  The team also decided to use eco-friendly packaging by folding old magazine pages into boxes to hold the soaps, so they didn’t have to use plastic bags.  

“I think that the program they’re doing is great,” said Megan Estanol (12), one of the co-leaders of the campaigning team.  “Especially since I get to see what all the work goes towards. I really think it’s great for the community.”