Three years ago, Sammy Palakodeti ’18 and two of her friends began collecting items for children in Mexico for the holiday season. What began as a hobby quickly grew into a fully fledged non-profit organization called A Warm Hug Foundation, aimed at helping disenfranchised individuals receive blankets, clothing, and care packages.
“One of our founders lives in the downtown San Diego area and was exposed to the large homeless population down there,” said Sammy. “We all felt like we needed to do something to help.”
Last year alone, A Warm Hug Foundation raised nearly $20,000. In addition to building care packages for the local homeless population, they were able to cover the medical expenses for a kidney bypass surgery for a young boy in Mexico.
Sammy’s next goal is to expand her organization’s efforts to include outreach in medically underserved areas. “I see the privilege Parker students have, particularly when it comes to things like access to healthcare and medical facilities—they are things many of us don’t have to think or worry about.”
At the same time, Sammy says the Parker community helped get Warm Hugs up and running. “My interest began with my teachers opening my eyes to socioeconomic diversity. They’ve initiated important conversations around tough subjects that I don’t know I would have participated in at any other school.” The Parker student body has also been a big supporter of the foundation. “Parker kids are go-getters and do-gooders. When I came up with this idea, there were tons of students who couldn’t wait to be a part of it.”
As she heads off to the University of Washington as a premed student, she hopes to start a new chapter for Warm Hugs. “I’m hoping that my professors will be able to help me figure out how we can provide medical resources to those in need,” Sammy said. “I honestly just want to give back more—I think that if you have the means of making the lives around you better, you’re obligated to do so.”
I honestly just want to give back more—I think that if you have the means of making the lives around you better, you’re obligated to do so.