By Justine Amodeo
The memory of a homeless woman sitting in the cold on a bench eating a hot dog in front of the Laguna Beach Public Library was one that stuck with Zoey Cutter, 16, a sophomore at Laguna Beach High School. So, when her mother suggested she and her 17-year-old brother Jake, a junior at LBHS, do something kind for others over the holidays, she knew exactly what she wanted to do.
“It made me think back to that specific memory, how upset it made me feel and how badly I felt for the homeless in the winter,” said Cutter. “It’s been cold here in Laguna Beach this winter. So, my brother and I brainstormed and came up with the idea to make care packages for the homeless in Laguna Beach.”
The Cutter siblings reached out to some of their classmates at the high school and some 40 students donated a total of $800. Then she said she texted her extended family and asked for donations, raising another $800.
“We ordered a bunch of items in bulk for the best price on Amazon; travel blankets that could be used as pillows or jackets, rain ponchos, mini hygiene kits, reusable masks, beanies, socks, gloves, anti-bacterial wipes, water bottles and tissues,” said Cutter. “With the $100 leftover we went to Ralphs and bought a variety of snacks, as much food as possible. We went over on the snacks, so my mother pitched in another $100.”
Zoey, Jake and two of their friends assembled the items and two days before Christmas, delivered the bags to the homeless around Main Beach and the homeless shelter in the canyon. When Zoey and her friend arrived at Main Beach, she found the same woman who haunted her memories from two years before.
“People were really grateful and shocked in a way,” Cutter said. “One man said a prayer for me, another man had the happiest face I had ever seen. It made me feel like I could finally give back to the town I have lived in for my entire life. And could give to the homeless instead of just passing by.”