CHARACTER COUNTS NOMINATIONS

Red Mountain senior Ayejah Rivera uses creativity to help community

Nov 9, 2021, 5:00 AM

Ayejah Rivera (Photo courtesy Ayjah Rivera)...

Ayejah Rivera (Photo courtesy Ayjah Rivera)

(Photo courtesy Ayjah Rivera)

Red Mountain High School senior Ayejah Rivera has used her creativity and passion to serve her community.

She was assigned a community service project in one of her classes during the spring, and she wanted to create a tradition that could last.

So Rivera called ASA Now, a non-profit organization based in Mesa that aids foster children, and learned it needed birthday supplies.

She collaborated with a friend to start “Birthday in a Bag,” a drive dedicated to collecting birthday cake mix, goodies and party supplies for foster children.

The drive became a school-wide affair, as other clubs jumped onto the idea and started to gather supplies to help out.

“What we did with that is we made about 20 bags that we could give to foster children so they could create their own little birthday party,” Rivera said. “And the rest of the supplies were donated to the organization ASA Now. They use that to create birthday parties in their little house that they have for their organization.”

It’s hard to believe there are enough hours in a day for everything Rivera is involved with.

She dedicates time to several community service outlets, including the Special Olympics. The senior also plays basketball for her school and has managed to keep a 4.3 GPA. She was awarded the Academic Booster Achievement Award from 2019-21.

Rivera had her first experience with the Special Olympics through an organization at her school called Club Diversity. She volunteered at a swim meet.

“Everybody was so excited to be there,” Rivera said. “Just whenever I can find opportunities, like I know they’re doing Special Olympics bowling this month, so whenever I can find it I just join.”

Starting two years ago, Rivera started volunteering at Paz de Cristo, an outreach center in Mesa that feeds people in need.

She goes about once per month to help with their dining service.

Rivera has ideas to help make the experience festive for the holidays by gathering supplies and decorations. For Halloween, she had students write positive messages on pumpkin-shaped cutouts for people to receive at the facility.

At a young age, Rivera’s mother instilled in her the understanding that not everyone has the opportunities she does.

She participated in Christmas Angel with the Salvation Army, an event where one picks a tag off a tree which has a gift listed on it. The volunteer then finds the gift, buys it and returns it to the tree to be wrapped and given to a child in need.

The experience taught her the impact she can have on others and how a little effort goes a long way.

Her days of helping others won’t end at her high school graduation. She has her eyes set on learning psychology in college, potentially at Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego.

“Two years ago, I started counseling, and that really interested me in the field of psychology,” Rivera said. “I want to start studying psychology and see where that takes me. I definitely want to help people in my career.”

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