Loyola University Chicago

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Student creates gift bags for needy

Student creates gift bags for needy

SOC student Sana Kadir started a GoFundMe campaign to buy items for the homeless.

April 16, 2020

Sana Kadir was getting ready to celebrate her 21st birthday. Then the pandemic hit.

With Loyola closing its campuses, and the state issuing stay-at-home orders, gone were the parties with family and friends.

Kadir’s birthday on March 22 was a small, subdued celebration with immediate family.

“I was bummed that I had to cancel my birthday plans,” she admitted.

But then she decided to use her birthday to give gifts to others. She started a campaign to distribute food and personal care items to the homeless in Chicago.

“I started to realize that I could use this as a positive. It inspired me to do something for others,” said Kadir, a junior Advertising and Public Relations major from Morton Grove, a Chicago suburb.

Kadir started a GoFundMe campaign to raise money to create gift bags for the homeless. Within hours, she had raises $1,000. Within days, the fund totaled $2,000.

“I was overwhelmed with the degree of support I received for the project,” Kadir said. “I never thought it would take off like it did.”

Kadir used the funds to purchase products such as bar and liquid soap, water bottles, toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer, fruit snacks, nuts and crackers.

The items were stuffed into custom-designed tote bags bearing the inspirational message, “When you are kind to someone, you hope they will remember and be kind to someone else... and it will spread like wildfire."

Her plan to distribute the bags to the homeless encountered a roadblock when she discovered that many Chicago shelters were shuttered to ensure people were practicing social distancing.

So Kadir set about finding locations where the homeless were living, such as a tent city underneath the Kennedy Expressway near Fullerton Avenue, and a similar site near the Eisenhower Expressway by the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Kadir said she was humbled when she handed out bags to grateful people, and felt fortunate for all she had. She said the experience taught her to believe in herself, and to believe in the power of youth.

“If you’re ever inspired to make a change, always believe in yourself. When you try to do good, you discover that it’s bigger than you,” Kadir said.

“This also taught me that there is so much power in youth,” she continued. “There are a lot of things college students can do to bring positive change. There is no limit to what we can do.”