ENMU students inspired to help Lighthouse Mission

Alisa Boswell: Portales News-Tribune

Adriana De La Rosa, left, Jessica Lavalle, center, and Kaiwen Xu, all of the International Affairs Department at Eastern New Mexico University, look through the toiletry items they have collected. The group decided to collect bathroom and laundry supplies for homeless people after visiting the Lighthouse Mission in Clovis.

A group of Eastern New Mexico University students will spend the next month collecting bathroom supplies and laundry detergent for the homeless because of a trip they took to Clovis over Christmas, according to ENMU students.

After touring the Lighthouse Mission and seeing its homeless and women's shelters, they decided they wanted to help and asked how they could help the most.

"The director told us what they needed help with the most is toiletry supplies and detergent," said ENMU student Adriana De La Rosa, a member of International Affairs, the department raising the items.

De La Rosa said the students in International Affairs regularly pick charity projects in Clovis and Portales and this time, they decided to look into the Lighthouse, because they had never helped there before.

"We are a big sponsor for this community," said International Affairs Director and student Kaiwen Xu. "International Affairs, as a department of ENMU, we not only serve students and the school, but the community."

Xu said he has a strong compassion for homeless people after witnessing what they go through firsthand.

Xu said after living through a large earthquake in his hometown, Sichuan, China, in 2008, he saw a lot of people lose their homes and everything in them.

"In our home, everything was fallen and broken except the heavy TV," Xu said of the aftermath of the earthquake. "I've been through this. I know what it's like."

Xu said he believes the entire community will help donate toiletries and laundry supplies because people in Portales and at ENMU are helping and giving.

"I've gotten a lot of help from this community since I got here," he said.

Montoya said she can also relate to being homeless, because one and a half years ago, she came to the Lighthouse with her two grandchildren, who were abandoned by their mother just before she was evicted from her home.

"God has a plan for me here, so I'm sticking around," Montoya said of taking on the manager's position for the shelter. "It has kept me so strong in my faith. This Lighthouse Mission is amazing. It transforms lives, because they care. And I spread the care. They (the homeless) need to know it's OK and God hasn't forgotten you."

Montoya said she was impressed that university students are so ambitious to help those in need in midst of all their studies.

"For one thing, you get to help out other people and it makes you feel good to not be selfish and help others," said Jessica Lavalle, and ENMU student and International Affairs member.

"We hope people can have a better life," Xu added. "I know regional people like to help and I'm not regional, but I like to help too."

Xu said the group will be taking donations of soap, shampoo and conditioner, sanitary wipes, toilet paper, laundry detergent and more through April 20.

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