People in Your Neighborhood: La Jolla Country Day student’s nonprofit aids homeless during pandemic
One of Boston Moreland’s earliest efforts in philanthropy was in first grade, when “one of my classmates was suffering from leukemia,” he said. “The teachers would talk to us about how it’s tough; [she underwent] blood transfusions at such a young age.”
Listening to his classmate’s experiences and watching other students tease her about her hair loss, Boston took action. With help from his mother, he wrote “an anti-bullying book to raise funds for Children’s Hospital for cancer research.”
Helping others is especially poignant for Boston now, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 17-year-old senior at La Jolla Country Day School started a nonprofit organization aimed at getting necessary supplies to area homeless people during this time of extreme need.
Boston, who lives in San Marcos, said he started the organization, Street Need, in May “to provide accessible first aid to San Diego homeless, anywhere in the county.”
Through Street Need, Boston assembles kits containing small bandages, lip balm, sunscreen, antiseptic wipes, a dry towelette, mint and a key chain with a light. He then delivers the kits to local nonprofits Showers of Blessings and Father Joe’s Villages, which distribute them among the homeless.
Street Need has provided hundreds of kits, “with several more on the way,” Boston said.
The inspiration for Street Need came from a conversation between Boston and local hospital workers while he was being treated for an injury.
“The issue of homelessness is such a prevalent thing here in San Diego,” Boston said. “We have such a large [homeless] population. Maybe these [clinicians] who are working in the health care profession have some ideas on what can help the homeless.”
Boston said he learned from the clinicians “how things such as a minor cut, bruises, blisters … can become really problematic. If [the homeless] don’t have access to simple things like [bandages], antiseptic or even sunscreen, very simple first-aid things ... they can be in a harmful position.”
Though he said starting Street Need is “by far my most active role” with charity projects, he’s volunteered in the past with local food banks and other organizations.
“We’ve been working to include masks in our packets,” he said. “When [the] homeless are being housed in shelters, the spread of disease can become a very big issue. We wanted to make sure we could get some form of sanitation — hand wipes, masks — out to them to help stop the spread of the disease.”
Boston said he hopes to get a kit into the hands of every local homeless person. “We have around 5,000 homeless in San Diego,” he said. “Our first goal is to get 5,000 [kits] distributed. That’s where our target is currently.”
He’s also working to expand the distribution avenues to include more nonprofits that work directly with San Diego homeless. “We’re focused on getting as many packets out as we can,” he said.
Boston is producing packets at home with his parents and recruiting friends to help at their homes as well. “They’ve been really supportive,” he said.
Boston also is focused on raising enough money to purchase the kits’ supplies. “We need funds right now,” he said. “We’re looking for donations on our website and we’ve done some Facebook fundraising.”
He also hopes to hold fundraising events when pandemic-related restrictions are lifted enough to allow them.
Eventually, Boston — who has his sights set on Stanford University and a career as a physician — hopes to expand Street Need to address the Bay Area’s homeless issues. He also plans to widen the organization’s services to include a mobile clinic at some point.
“I plan on pursuing this well past high school,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been a great experience, being able to talk to so many people.”
“This has gone a lot farther than I thought it would,” Boston added. “I’m so happy with how it’s turned out, with how many people I’ve been able to help.”
To learn more, visit streetneed.org.
— Editor’s note: La Jolla Light’s “People in Your Neighborhood” series shines a spotlight on notable locals we all wish we knew more about. If you know someone you’d like us to profile, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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