Shira Alcouloumre, 16, of Laguna Beach, CA complained to her mother one day about having to eat a peach for breakfast. Her mom thought she might need a dose of perspective, so she took Shira and her siblings grocery shopping in Santa Ana, where they used their savings to buy food for the homeless — and then they delivered it.
That day inspired Shira to look around at the world and her community and find ways to give back. She created Laguna Friends in Need, a project that helps migrant day laborers in Laguna Canyon with weekly English classes (they need more teacher volunteers!), a safe place where they can wait for work, plus help with meals, clothing, medical care and even holiday gifts for families.
In five years, Laguna Friends in Need has raised donations and created relationships with the workers while working with the City Council. Shira and her team have helped ease prejudices in the area as well, and the project’s facebook page is filled with photos of food donation days, wrapping gifts for workers’ families and celebratory days (the photo above is Shira with a group of workers graduating from their summer English course).
Shira recently received a Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award, which recognizes the next generation of philanthropic visionaries and provides them with support and resources in their drive to make the world a better place (applications and nominations for next year are open now!). The team’s next goal is to build an on-site classroom with certified ESL teachers.