STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) — Before the pandemic started, a high school senior in Stockton created a network to help the homeless.
COVID-19 has since changed the way she gives, but it’s not stopping 17-year-old Mariah Lopez.
Piles and piles of hygiene and sanitation products line Lopez’s garage.
But for the Cesar Chavez High School senior, there are even more people she would like to help.
“I kinda just turned it into something that all schools could have,” Lopez told FOX40.
Lopez is the young mind behind Mariah’s Closet, a network of designated spaces on high school campuses in Stockton. The spaces were set up in 2019 to help homeless students.
Even though distance learning has changed the way she gives and how students receive donations, she is still working hard.
“She wasn’t allowing the circumstances to stop her,” said Jeannie Yang, Lopez’s mother. “She was still gonna do it regardless.”
The virtual classroom has also impacted Lopez’s family.
“I wouldn’t like it so much because I’m not seeing my friends,” Lopez said.
“I keep a schedule with them and then on top of work, having to be at work. So, it’s been hard, especially with the little one,” Yang said.
On top of her own school schedule, Lopez helps look after her younger siblings.
The teen also says as a hands-on learner, she had to get extra help from her teachers.
“Did like a one-on-one with me to help me out,” Lopez said.
But what she was really looking forward to is the night some former students will always cherish: prom. As her eyes lit up at the dream that once was, she’s focused on what she can do now.
Lopez will continue to pack bags to help kids in need.
“To get everything that’s in our garage packed up to some more schools,” Lopez said.
“I’m super proud of her. She’s worked hard regardless of the pandemic,” Yang said.
Lopez and her mother hand out donations every other week in Stockton.