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Arlington students lend helping hands to Homeless in Seattle

From left, Arlington High School students Bryanne Burns, Caitlin Austin and Raffaella Wyllie are three of the Arlington School District students taking part in Austins Homeless in Seattle project, by setting up collection spots at Flowers by George and Arlington Hardware and Lumber on Olympic Avenue, as well as Paradise Burgers in Smokey Point, and the Arlington Safeway has granted the groups volunteers permission to collect contributions in person at their store Dec. 6, from 3:30-6:30 p.m. -
From left, Arlington High School students Bryanne Burns, Caitlin Austin and Raffaella Wyllie are three of the Arlington School District students taking part in Austins Homeless in Seattle project, by setting up collection spots at Flowers by George and Arlington Hardware and Lumber on Olympic Avenue, as well as Paradise Burgers in Smokey Point, and the Arlington Safeway has granted the groups volunteers permission to collect contributions in person at their store Dec. 6, from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
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ARLINGTON Arlington High School sophomore Caitlin Austin, 15, has always believed in helping out those in need, but this holiday season, she and roughly a dozen of her fellow students in the Arlington School District have decided to adopt a more personal and hands-on approach to charity through her Homeless in Seattle project.
I was watching Oprah when she gave $1,000 each to every member of her studio audience that day, Austin said. I thought Id like to be able to do something like that.
While Austin admitted that her pockets are nowhere near as deep as Oprahs, shes called upon her community to pitch in on behalf of combating the homeless epidemic in our country, starting with her home state, by soliciting contributions for kits to give the homeless of Seattle, each one including Christmas gifts and more essential items.
Austin asserted that those of us with homes occasionally take for granted the wealth of gifts that we receive at this time of year, especially since many of them are toys and useless things we could live without, but emphasized that, for the homeless, even the supplies that we consider necessary for our day-to-day lives are often relative luxuries.
As such, her kits will furnish the homeless with scarves, gloves and other hand-warmers, shoes, socks, toiletries and food, as well as Christmas cards and small presents, which she and her peers plan to present to the homeless on the week leading up to Christmas.
Shelters are packed full this year, and those who are left on the streets are cold and hungry, said Austin, who expects to distribute kits personally at locations such as Pike Place Market and Westlake Center. Instead of just handing them money and not knowing for sure what they might spend it on, we can give them things to keep warm.
Austins goal is to assemble at least 50 kits for the homeless, to which end shed like to be able to generate as much as $2,000 in donations from her family, friends and neighbors. Although Homeless in Seattle has only been active and organized for slightly longer than a week, its members have already set up collection spots at Flowers by George and Arlington Hardware and Lumber on Olympic Avenue, as well as Paradise Burgers in Smokey Point, and the Arlington Safeway has granted the groups volunteers permission to collect contributions in person at their store Dec. 6, from 3:30-6:30 p.m.
If Austin is any indication, the members of Homeless in Seattle have all assigned themselves a considerable load of homework, since Austin plans on spending 10-20 hours a week on this project until its completed, not including the slideshow presentation shes already preparing to deliver to contributing members of the community after the groups distribution of kits is done to show how their donations made a difference.
For all the latest updates on this project, Homeless in Seattle has set up a MySpace site on the Internet, at www.myspace.com/homeless_in_seattle, as well as an e-mail address, at homelessinseattle@hotmail.com, for those interested in taking part or learning more.
Those who wish to donate items for the kits, or amounts of money that they might not feel comfortable with dropping off at the collection spots, may also contact Austin by phone, at 360-435-8412, and ask for Caitlin.

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