EDINBURG – The 86 National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) members at South Texas ISD Preparatory Academy in Edinburg worked hard to raise funds for their end-of-year field trip. They partnered with a local restaurant for a fundraiser in the fall, and sold chocolates in the spring to prepare for a trip to San Antonio that, under normal circumstances, would have occurred this month.

The pandemic stopped this field trip in its tracks, but in the midst of all that is happening in the world, students see this is an opportunity to contribute to their community and help those in need.

During a virtual NJHS meeting last week, the club sponsors posed a question to the members about their recommendations for using the money raised. The first student to reply asked whether or not it would be possible to donate the money. Once sponsors confirmed this was possible, the meeting was flooded with suggestions from members about different organizations to which the money could be donated. NJHS member Mia Rodriguez said, “Lots of people during this time, and especially in our community, are being let go from their jobs, meaning they don’t have a source of income. Because of that, the food bank is full of people {in need}. What if we were to donate to them again?” The Preparatory Academy NJHS chapter donated 798 cans of food to the organization in early March.

The students collectively decided to donate their $4,350.00 raised to the Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley (RGV) this month. According to Philip Farias, Manager of Corporate Engagement, Events, and Governmental Relations, this donation will certainly help the Food Bank serve families in the RGV. “We are able to provide 21,750 healthy meals with this donation,” he says.

NJHS officers Sofia Oliveira and Raven Leigh Cabasag are pleased about their chapter’s decision to donate the funds. Oliveira says, “In the end it comes down to helping our community rather than helping ourselves. If we couldn’t do something fun for ourselves, at least we can help other people, which is really what NJHS is about. Our money is more beneficial to the food bank, so I’m very happy that we are donating it.” Cabasag adds, “I don't really see it as ‘losing a trip.’ I see it as doing our best as NJHS members to provide for our community and doing what's best at a time like this. Yes, I'm a bit sad that we didn't receive a fun field trip as a reward for our eighth grade NJHS year, but I'd rather the money go somewhere where it'll be used for greater benefits.”

NJHS sponsor Diana A. Garcia shares that she and co-sponsor Patricia Ayala-Gonzalez are proud of the students’ decision to use their funds for the greater good. “As sponsors, seeing students’ messages and willingness to help others during this time of need is inspiring and humbling.”