Every great movement starts with a simple idea. For Desirae Rocha, the idea came in the form of a plastic bottle.
Rocha is not your average 27 year old. She represents the best of what it is to be young, ambitious and full of light-the-world-on-fire spirit. She is the West Valley College-Going Counselor for a non-profit called Be A Leader. They provide FREE resources to get high school students into college — let’s just start there. This is a crucial, grass-roots effort. They give students the tools they need so they are not intimidated by the process. College should be available to all who want to go, and who are willing to put forth the effort.
What she does day-to-day is help teenagers plan a future. But Rocha, being the ambitious young woman she is, wanted to do more. She set her sights on cleaning up campuses around Phoenix. She came up with a community service project that ties together clean-up, recycling, and feeding the hungry: The Plastic Bottle Project. Rocha put her contacts to use, enlisting the help of high-school and elementary students to collect and recycle plastic bottles and aluminum cans.
Students from Phoenix Union High School District, Tolleson, Aqua Fria and Peoria all agreed to help (yes, there are a lot of great kids out there). ASU also signed on with an assist from the Hispanic Business Student Association and El Concilio — a Chicana, Latina leadership organization. After all, this is what leadership looks like.
Money raised will feed the hungry and homeless at an event in Phoenix on March 28th. Rocha is putting together lunch bags with sandwiches, snacks, water or juice and a toothbrush.
This is how a movement happens. It starts with an idea and someone who is courageous enough, organized enough and has enough heart to keep the momentum going.
Speaking of momentum, Central Arizona Shelter Services agreed to donate 100 toothbrushes, and SRP pledged 15 recycle bins as well as 1,000 lunch sacks (well done!). The list keeps growing. Lowes is donating 20 massive totes to place on high school campuses so the recyclables can be collected. A community organization called Public Allies pledged $500 for the snack bags.
I asked Rocha how she feels as the Feed Phoenix event approaches. She said, “Phoenix is my city. My heart is overwhelmed with joy. We have brought this project to life!”
The month-long movement ends March 28th. The Burton Barr Public Library graciously agreed to host the event outside of their facility — with two DJ’s and, at last count, 80 volunteers on hand. Rocha tells me the good folks from the library have even offered to make this an annual project, along with the City of Phoenix.
The goal is 500 lunch bags to feed 500 Phoenicians. I have no doubt Desirae Rocha will exceed that goal; she is all about movement, not standing still.
Looking for more information or how to get involved? Follow The Plastic Bottle Project on Social Media!
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