Photo Used With Permission From Juju Butler
From March 29 to April 2, HHS Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) held a COVID-19 safe food drive in honor of Hunger Awareness in partnership with Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. HOSA secretary junior Juju Butler expresses HOSA’s impact on her and how the program can impact the community and people at HHS. COVID-19 has impacted how HOSA runs things compared to normal, which was a challenge Butler and the organization had to figure out.
“It’s been a lot more difficult to [plan and execute projects or events due to] COVID. This year, we tried to think of activities that we could do that would be socially distanced and safe, but also make a big impact. As a collective group, we came together and decided on doing a food drive with the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. We advertised [the food drive] on all of the HOSA social media accounts and got the word around, and then it was in the people’s hands and hopefully people decided to donate,” Butler said.
Along with the food drive, HOSA has done fundraisers and conferences. As a club, they also plan school events and projects to spread the word about HOSA.
“We do a lot of fundraisers that involve the community. One of our big [fundraisers] is through Chick-fil-A. We also focus a lot on conferences. [Throughout] the school, we set up freshman orientation night and spread the word about it. I think we’re definitely leaning in the direction of trying to get our name out there and do more projects,” Butler said.
The food drive was mainly inspired by the Hunger Awareness Month, as well as looking at our community and what is needed.
“The main reason we did the food drive was because each month through HOSA, there’s an awareness month and we were focusing on hunger awareness, especially in the area that we live in. There’s a lot of kids that go hungry, there’s a high percentage of free and reduced lunch, we just have a really high amount of kids who struggle with food. Not even just kids, [lots of people] in our community and surrounding communities [struggle with food]. So, doing a food drive was just perfect with the month that we were in. It is kind of healthcare related, so it worked out really good for us to do that,” Butler said.
Due to COVID-19, HOSA has had difficulty planning events due to the pandemic protocols; however, they are still trying to come up with events for seniors as the school year is coming to an end.
“With the school year coming to an end, we have an April meeting and a May meeting. I know we’re really focusing on senior activities, and we have a big conference coming up in the summer so we’re focusing on that. We might be discussing a few more ideas, it’s just really hard with COVID and everything, especially us not being able to be in the school [building]. Everything has to be safe, it’s hard to plan community events when we can’t be together as a community,” Butler said.
Being a part of HOSA was an obvious choice for Butler as she has always been passionate about the healthcare field.
“Off the bat I knew I wanted to do healthcare. I have always had a passion for healthcare, that’s one of my favorite things to do, and the fact that there’s a healthcare club, obviously I’m gonna join that. Being in [the] club, you get to learn so much about healthcare. We do conferences, leadership things and obviously community service which we’re leaning towards doing more of,” Butler said.
Butler loves helping in the community, and being a part of HOSA has helped her to do so. Helping out with the food drive was one way Butler got to be involved and contribute to the community.
“I just love helping out in the community, so I went to the store and bought a bunch of stuff to bring to the food drive. It makes you feel good inside knowing that you can help people who really need it, especially now [with the pandemic]. If you think about it, we had super high numbers of food scarcity and people who were struggling to put food on the table before the pandemic and then the pandemic hit and people lost jobs and have even less money coming in,” Butler said. “I’m middle class so I don’t have to worry about having food on the table, but I’m able to recognize that my peers may struggle and I know that my neighbors may, so just being able to do my part and being able to spend a little bit of my money and time to help the family next door and make sure that they can eat tonight [is so worth it].”
HOSA has not only helped Butler be a larger part of the community but also given her more insight into the healthcare field and provided her with skills she may need in the future.
“HOSA has given me a lot of insight on the healthcare field [as well as] leadership skills. I have an officer position in our organization, so I have that added responsibility, which has been kind of challenging with my workload, but it teaches you how to balance things and how to prioritize, so there’s definitely been some character building from HOSA,” Butler said.
HOSA has also helped Butler obtain necessary requirements for getting into college, as well as added bonuses that will give her a better chance of getting into certain colleges.
“HOSA has given me [lots of] opportunities and knowledge. [I have gotten] volunteering hours for college, which you need to get into a good college. I’m [also] elected to the state officer position and placed top in our region, so I get to go to the next level conference, [which is] kind of getting my name out there, [that is also] going to look good to colleges and just show that I’m dedicated to healthcare. That’s all going to come into play when it comes down to going to school for what I want to do,” Butler said.
Being virtual due to the pandemic has definitely affected HOSA as not being in person has made a huge difference in the way the club functions.
“With COVID, we meet online virtually once a month, as a whole collective organization. That’s definitely changed our food drive. We had to set it up outside the school and just really try to spread the word and get people to spread it word of mouth. Everybody wears masks and uses hand sanitizer. Our conference, which is usually in person, was all virtual so that was a little bit harder, as all the testing [was] virtual. We [also] didn’t get to go into the school to spread the word about HOSA,” Butler said.
Additionally, going online has benefited the club in some ways, especially through their social media outlets.
“[Being virtual has] actually benefited us a little bit because we’ve been able to really buckle down and focus on our social media aspects. We’ve really put that time and energy into amping up our social media and trying to utilize that to the best of our ability, which has been really helpful. I feel like we’ve done a good job at getting all the information and reminders out and kind of building that base on all our social media accounts,” Butler said. “We’ve learned a lot about how HOSA can work together to make a difference, that’s going to be really beneficial when we do go back in person. We are going to have those skills and that’s going to benefit what our organization can do for the community once we can all be together again.”