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Volunteer Chronicles: Crafting Sweet Gifts from Recycled Materials

Transforming Trash into Scholarships and Gifts for Children in Need

Volunteers happily interact with children at a charity home

From Discarded Plastic Bottles and Cans to Scholarships and Gifts

In the intense heat of Ho Chi Minh City, over 20 students from Nguyễn Văn Cừ High School in H.Hóc Môn traverse neighborhoods to collect recyclable materials. Despite the sweltering weather and sweat-drenched clothes, their faces beam with joy, knowing their efforts contribute to a meaningful cause.

Overcoming Shyness to Embrace Recycling

After helping their parents with household chores in the morning, 16-year-old Lê Ngọc Kim Thoa and friends ride over 10 km to Tân Chánh Hiệp Market in District 12 to collect recyclables. Waiting for them are nearly 20 Red Flamboyant Volunteer Campaign students, equipped with gloves and large bags for collecting.

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High school students spend their weekends collecting recyclables to fundraise

The team divides into groups, scouring neighborhoods in Trung Mỹ Tây and Tân Chánh Hiệp, picking up any plastic bottles, paper cups, and cans they find. The locations vary, from Hóc Môn wholesale market to more distant neighborhoods, to maximize their reach.

Initially hesitant to ask strangers for recyclables, Thoa’s perspective shifted upon realizing the impact of their efforts. “The first time we asked for recyclables to fundraise for charity and provide gifts to children in need, everyone was supportive. Even receiving a single can or plastic bottle felt like finding gold. I never knew I could value a plastic bottle so much,” Thoa shares.

Huỳnh Bảo Nhi, a 17-year-old student, admits she initially thought collecting recyclables would be tough due to the midday heat, but the support from peers and locals made her forget the exhaustion. “We choose the midday to collect because of our morning classes or part-time jobs. It can be tiring walking long distances in the sun, but the warmth and generosity of the community, guiding us to other houses with more recyclables, makes it worthwhile. The first day we raised 300,000 VND, which felt incredibly valuable,” Nhi recounts.

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Their hard work and dedication impress many locals. Some even offer drinks and fruits to encourage the young volunteers. Nguyễn Thị Phương Thảo, a resident, admires their enthusiasm and responsibility, supporting their environmental and charitable efforts. Đinh Thị Hồng, despite her own financial struggles, shares her collected recyclables with the volunteers, appreciating their spirit and kindness.

After two hours of collection, the group’s bags are full, raising 50,000 VND. It’s a modest sum but highly valued by the students. With consistent efforts, they have raised over 1 million VND, enough to buy milk and diapers for children in need.

Trần Quốc Đức, the leader of the Red Flamboyant Volunteer Campaign at Nguyễn Văn Cừ High School, notes the enthusiastic participation of volunteers, with up to 60 students joining during peak times. “This activity teaches us communication skills, enriches our life experiences, builds new friendships, and fosters a spirit of altruism. It’s not just a summer activity; it shapes us into more compassionate, helpful individuals who care for those around us,” Đức reflects.


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