When Anylah and her siblings first came to the shelter on Wednesday, the light was gone from her eyes; her forlorn expression spoke of the trauma she had just experienced. I was one of hundreds of volunteers that came out that day and was busy organizing the socks and shoes in the donation center when I first saw this adorable creature. I stopped what I was doing to help her find the items she needed in that moment (a shirt and a pair of pants); the first step in helping her to feel safe. After she changed into her new outfit, I saw Anylah smile for the first time. As I walked her back to her mom with her little hand in mine, I noticed that she was skipping. In that moment, Anylah captured my heart. She had just endured the heartbreaking tragedy of losing all of her belongings, and yet was still able to find joy in that moment.
That day I saw hundreds of people come into the shelter and helped about ten with their needs at the sock and shoe station, but I couldn't forget Anylah. Her enchanting smile and charming personality easily reminded me of my own daughter who is also 5. They both start Kindergarten this year, one of the most formative experiences of their lives. They both love the color pink, playing with dolls, and watching Disney movies. Anylah's story humbled me significantly. I returned the next day to volunteer again and made sure to visit her family. Her mom explained that they had lost everything and were unsure of where they would go next. All I could think about was how this little girl had just gone through the unimaginable and would have to start school in a week. My main concern for my own daughter, who was safe at home, is getting her to write her name with all the letters touching the line and learning more sight words. But for Anylah and her family, their concerns were centered on getting their basic needs of food and shelter met.
There are so many ways that people across the coutnry are already helping the victims of Hurricane Harvey. I want to say thank you to all of you who have been keeping abreast with the news, whereever you are, and for extending your love and compassion to all those affected. Please continue to keep all victims in your thoughts, but I also humbly ask that you consider helping me with my goal to keep Anylah smiling today and every day. I am asking for your help with getting Anylah set up to have an amazing first year of school, which is ultimately the foundation of her educational success. The money raised will be used to provide Anylah with the following:
$50 Walmart Gift Card for school supplies
$100 Old Navy Gift Card for a new wardrobe (clothes, shoes, socks, underwear)
$100 HEB Grocery Store Gift Card for the family once they are out of the shelter
$150 Family Membership to the Houston Zoo (for the purpose of providing a long-term educational experience for the entire family)
$100 Visa Gift Card for whatever her mom might need to reguild their lives
If you would like to make a donation of any of the items above, please message me via this campaign so that we can arrange a time for me to pick it up. As previously mentioned, her family lost everything. So if you're intersted in donating another item to help the family rebuild their lives (i.e. furniture, clothing, kitchen appliances), please also reach out to me.
Anylah and her family will be at NRG Center for an indefinite amount of time, but Anylah will eventually be moved to her Grandma's house when she starts school. Since school starts in a week, I have set the timeline of this fundraiser for five days (this gives them a couple of days to buy the items with the funds raised). For those of you wondering, I have her Mom's contact information so that I can reach them when this fundraiser is over. I also plan on visiting more throughout the week (just to be sure that Anylah is still smiling).
Thank you very much for taking the time to read Anylah's story.
*This photo was taken and used with the consent of Morgan (Anylah's mom)
*This campaign (with all of the information included) was created with the permission of Morgan (Anylah's mom)
Some background information about Vida Pascual:
I am a teacher living in Missouri City (about 30 minutes away from Houston) one of the areas affected by Hurricane Harvey. I am fortunate that my family and I were safe from Harvey's harm. Like so many other Houstonians, I have been volunteering at the NRG Shelter because I want to be of service in any way possible during this tragic time.