Student spreads holiday cheer to area homeless

Dec. 20, 2001, midnight | By Shannon Sanders | 18 years, 1 month ago

Junior Keiara Robinson still remembers when she first learned that there were men and women in the world without homes. A young child at the time, she was deeply saddened by the realization that so many lived in extreme poverty. But where many her age would simply feel helplessness, Keiara recognized an opportunity to help make things better.

For the past eight years, Keiara and her parents have attempted to brighten the holiday season for those less fortunate. On Thanksgiving Day, the Robinsons prepare extra turkeys, yams and stuffing and then drive around Northeast D.C., serving the food to homeless people.

The tradition was established by Keiara herself when, at age eight, she became aware of the socioeconomic disparities that separated her from the people she saw on the streets. "I was always like, ‘Why is there homelessness?'" she says. "I thought it was wrong, and I wanted to change it."

Keiara chose to carry out her plan without the help of a shelter or soup kitchen because she believed it would help her get closer to the root of the problem. "I wanted to do it on the streets," she explains. "Not through an organization, but for people who really don't have anything."

Keith Robinson, Keiara's father, expresses pride that his daughter could harbor concern for the plight of others at such a young age. Robinson says that his daughter's enthusiasm is what motivates the rest of the family each year. "At first it seems like a hassle to cook these extra dinners," he says. "But she loves it, and it's very satisfying when you're actually doing it."

Keiara's eagerness to help has been an inspiration to her peers as well. Junior Michelle Walker has known Keiara for four years and admires her friend's efforts to help the community. "It takes a lot of courage to do what she does," says Walker. "I don't know any other people my age so concerned with other people."

Thus far, the experience has been bittersweet for Keiara. Although she enjoys the annual tradition, it saddens her to see the same people on the streets year after year. "It's been really fun," she says. "But it's sad because every year they're still out there."

Keiara says that giving to the less fortunate increases her confidence in her worth as a human being. "It makes me feel better—if I make a mistake or do wrong in life I have something to fall back on," she says.

Over the course of eight years, the event has gradually become more elaborate in its effort to reach more people. "Every year it gets bigger," says Keiara. This year, the Robinsons managed to feed over 20 people, compared to only five or six the first year.

Keiara hopes that the tradition will only continue to grow in size every year. "I'd like to get more families to do it so we can serve more people," says Keiara. "Hopefully we could do it through school."

She envisions an event similar to the successful Walk for the Homeless that took place on Nov 15. Keiara laughs as she pictures the future of the tradition, saying, "We could rent a bus or something."

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Shannon Sanders. Shannon is stumbling through life as a Magnet senior. She's an aspiring obstetrician, who hopes to live in NYC and somehow blend seamlessly into the masses of chicness after graduating from Columbia University. She's a sort-of member of Blair's Model UN club, takes dance lessons, ... More »

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