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More than 100 gift bags were donated to a Mississippi Veterans organization thanks to the efforts of one high school senior. 

17-year-old Shayla Pierson, granddaughter to  Korean War Veteran Paul Upton, started the three-month-long project at the end of last year, collecting toiletries for homeless veterans and asking for help from her Long Beach High School Family Career Community Leaders of America club in Long Beach, Mississippi. 

“Everyone who is homeless once had a home,” she said. “They had family who loved them. Just because things happen doesn’t mean these people don’t have worth. Sometimes a person just needs to know someone cares and values their worth.”

With the help of her peers, Pierson was able to fill more than 100 bags with toiletries, snacks, socks, and other helpful supplies, which she then donated to the Gulf Coast Veterans Healthcare System’s Homeless Program at the Biloxi VA Medical Center, reported VAntage Point.

“The Homeless Program staff provides outreach to various locations throughout our area,” said Homeless Program manager Jodie Picciano-Swanson.

 “Shayla has a heart of gold. She was dedicated to this self-initiated project. She would send me photos of piles of the collected items spread across her living room floor. Her granddad, Upton, helped her organize the items. She is a remarkable young woman,”  Picciano-Swanson continued, saying the organization will use the items in various outreach projects.

“A simple act of kindness can change lives,” Pierson said. “This small act of kindness is nothing compared to the fact that these people risked their lives to fight for ours.”


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