Good News Thursday: Third-grader hosts food drives, homeless teen gets a quinceañera

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Third-grader hosts food drives

Dylan Pfeifer sits on the corner of his neighborhood cul-de-sac in Chandler, Arizona. Pfeifer received 555 cans and boxes and about $500 in monetary donations. (Erin Pfeifer via AP)

On any given day, residents in Chandler, Arizona can find 8-year-old Dylan Pfeifer sitting on the corner of his cul-de-sac with his handwritten banner that reads, “Dylan’s Food Drive.” Initially Dylan wanted to help students receive internet access, but since that task was too complex for the third grader to achieve, he turned his efforts to a food drive. He has already hosted three food drives with the help of his mom. They make flyers and posters, and post on Facebook to inform people when and where the food drive is happening. Dylan’s enthusiasm never tires.

“I would plan one every day if I could,” he told the Associated Press.

His food drives have raised over $900 in donations and in total he has received more than 1,000 cans and boxes of nonperishable food. Dylan plans on having another food drive in June after his school year ends. For his parents, friends and neighbors, Dylan is an inspiration to serve the community.

“It is inspiring because he is just an 8-year-old boy,” Denise Sandy-Sanchez told the Associated Press after donating boxes of food at his most recent drive. She was Dylan’s second-grade teacher last year.

“I hope you have room in your chest for that growing heart of yours,” she told him.

Lawyer advocates for eviction victims

Attorney Mark Melton poses for a photo in front of his home in Dallas on Friday, April 2, 2021. Melton has formed a group made up of volunteer attorneys to help people avoid evictions if they can’t pay rent due to the pandemic. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Early on in the pandemic attorney Mark Melton posted advice on how to deal with evictions to help those at risk. Now with a team of 175 other attorneys he is helping residents keep living in their homes and apartments. Their responsibilities vary from case to case. At times they are advising renters how to access government funds to pay rent. Other times the team negotiates with landlords, represents renters in court or helps with the groceries. Through their efforts they have helped over 6,000 people. 

A current federal ban on evictions is in act through June. But even with the federal ban, landlords are still finding ways to evict residents, many of which are unaware of their rights. Melton himself struggled to get where he is now. His initiative, now a nonprofit called the Dallas Eviction Advocacy Center takes in any clients, regardless of income.

“I relate to that sense of just complete and utter desperation and the necessity to rely on the charity of others just to get the most basic of things,” Melton said. “It truly breaks my heart.”

Homeless teen celebrates her quinceañera with community’s help

Adriana Palma wears a tiara and ballgown on her quinceañera, her 15th birthday celebration. Quinceañeras are revered in Hispanic culture and celebrated with all the gusto of a wedding. But after her father lost his job, Palma said, “I lost all hope of having one.” (Caring Place @ Miami Rescue Mission via AP)

Adriana Palma lost hope of her quinceañera dreams. When she and her family immigrated to the United States from Mexico in 2020, they were excited for the prospect of her father’s new job and the new life they would live in Miami. But when the pandemic hit, Palma’s father was laid off from his job and the family was left to live in their SUV as she and her siblings tried to go to school. The Miami Rescue Mission found the family a small apartment in June, but even with their new home, Palma thought her quinceañera was as good as gone.

When Lian Navarro, a community development associate at Miami Rescue Mission, learned that Palmer’s 15th birthday was coming up, she knew how important a quinceañera was in Mexican culture. So she gathered the help of a group of volunteers called the “Cover Girls” to help with decorations, food, dessert, makeup, photography and anything else Palma needed for her special day. On her quinceañera day, Palma could celebrate in a beautiful pink ball gown and tiara with her family and new friends. “I felt like a princess,” Palma told the Associated Press.

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