MARBLE FALLS — While teenagers typically use their Christmas money to buy the hottest gadgets and the latest fashions, 13-year-old Olivia Delz and 12-year-old Mikah Hopkins decided to use their money for a higher purpose.
“We had so much leftover Christmas money, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, so Olivia showed me a video, and we were both crying,” Hopkins said. “We said, ‘We’re going to do this.'”
The online video showed reactions from recipients of acts of philanthropy.
The Marble Falls Middle School students devised a plan to use some of their money to buy clothing and food items, assemble care packages and deliver the items to the homeless in Austin.
“We thought it would be a good idea, where we’re not being selfish. We had a Christmas, and they didn’t,” Delz said. “I got presents, and they did not. I have a family that cares, and they don’t really have a family or people to spend Christmas with, so they needed one, too.”
Delz dedicated $200 and Hopkins budgeted $70 for a shopping spree at local department and clothing stores to buy dozens of sweaters, scarves, gloves, blankets, toiletries, food and water.
On Jan. 5, their parents drove them to Austin, where they found groups of people under overpasses and on street corners.
Hopkins said when she approached the first group, she began to have second thoughts.
“I didn’t want them to get offended,” she said. “I hoped they would like what we gave them.”
The recipients expressed their gratitude.
“They got so happy. Like this one guy — his eyes got so wide,” Delz said. “One of the men told us, ‘Listen to your mom and never drop out, or you’ll end up cold and on the streets like me.'”
The girls developed a stronger sense of understanding for the conditions homeless people face.
“They should be treated the same even though they may not have made the same decisions other people did,” Delz said. “They’re just people on the streets. They’re no different from anybody else.”
With each care package, the girls offered handwritten scripture. A Bible verse they each used multiple times was Isaiah 41:10, which reads: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
The teens said they wanted to share their faith through the scriptures to add a spiritual component to their effort.
“Once they read those verses out of the Bible,” Delz said, “I hope that they will think about it and remember us.”