High school student's donation drive stocks nonprofit's shelves for winter

A tube of ChapStick or a container of lotion may seem like insignificant items, but for those living in poverty they are true essentials, especially in our harsh Minnesota winters.

Over the summer, Benilde-St. Margaret's Junior Isabella Yacoub began volunteering with FOCUS, a St. Paul nonprofit that helps those struggling financially with basic needs like food, clothing, and other essentials. 

"I looked, and I saw there was some stuff that we were short on, and I saw it as an opportunity to help," Yacoub told FOX 9.

At the start of the school year, she began a discipleship class where service hours are required. 

But Yacoub decided to take things one step further, and organized a school-wide donation drive specifically for cold weather essentials like hand warmers, lip balm and lotion.

It was so successful that FOCUS is now stocked and ready to serve those in need for the entire winter.

"The items she collected are small and you think, 'Why would a ChapStick have an impact?' It has a great impact if you're homeless. It has a great impact if you are a kid in a family where there is a marked economic need," said FOCUS Director Vera Proctor. 

Proctor tells FOX 9 says every donation counts, especially now.

Over the last four years, they have served more people than ever before and the generosity of community members like Isabella enable their work to continue.

"The need is greater than it ever has been, for us at least, from the perspective of the basic needs work that we do," said Proctor.