As adults its easy to remove ourselves from our younger years and minimize all that we had to handle. Still, research has shown that even at the age of nine, kids face quite a bit of change and must learn to adapt to the various stresses added to their plates. By this time, children find themselves standing on the cusp of adolescence, learning to address and juggle everyday challenges and responsibilities related to their education, navigating social groups and developing bodies. California-based Latina Maya Covarrubias Aguilar is also busy with these responsibilities. Still, her interest in philanthropy is inspiring a movement.
Nine-year-old Aguilar is the creator and organizer of Cozy Collection.
We wouldn't be able to reach as many people in need if it wasn't for your continued support. We're ramping up for the Fall campaign and look forward to working together to have an impact on homelessness in the San Gabriel Vallen and Inland Empire.#latinodad #sgv #claremont #covina
Posted by The Cozy Collection on Tuesday, July 10, 2018
Aguilar started out her project with a desire to see every person she helped in an environment that was filled with comfort, it was a hope that inspired the name of her donation drive and gave rise to her idea of collecting cozy items like socks and blankets for homeless and displaced people in her community. Described by her dad, Carlos Aguilar, as a “family service learning project,” the Cozy Collection is an enterprise that Aguilar started to work on when she was only 6 years old.
The community drive started off as a trip to a local recycling center. Aguilar was with her father and mother, Angie Covarrubias Aguilar, turning in recycling when she spotted a homeless person on a street corner. On the drive home, Covarrubias had questions about homelessness. Mostly she wanted to know how she could help.
There’s no doubt, that Aguilar’s empathy for others can be easily identified as a sort of compassion that goes beyond her years but her concern is also extremely valid. Her home state of California saw the largest increase in homelessness than any state in 2016 to 2017 year. Over 16,000 people were displaced during that year. The state also saw a staggering increase in the numbers of unsheltered homelessness and chronically homeless people.
So, a project like Aguilar’s is extremely necessary for the betterment of her community.
Supported by her family, Aguilar decided to look into ways she could help the homeless population of San Gabriel Valley.
CREDIT: Photo provided by Carlos Aguilar
Still, only six-years-old at the time, Aguilar decided that she could help by collecting pairs of socks— the most requested item from shelters— and other comfort items. Aguilar got to work right away; making flyers, organizing, goal setting and involving the people closest to her.
The Cozy Collection started small with most help coming from Aguilar’s friends, family, and classmates. Her project collects items all year and donates collected items around the Thanksgiving holiday season. In the first year of the project’s inception, Maya set the goal of collecting 1,000 pairs of socks. In the end, the Cozy Collection was able to donate 2000 pairs of socks to the Mercy House— an organization that provides housing, food, and shelter to local communities.
Since its first year, Aguilar has set big goals for her project. The second year of its collection drive, the Cozy Collection was able to gather over 3,000 pairs. In its third year, the project reigned in a total of over 8,000 pairs donated to the Mercy House. Overall, the project has impacted thousands of lives by donating over 13,000 pairs of socks.
The project’s exponential growth meant that it was time to branch out. Other essentials like mittens, hats, shoes, and sleeping bags were soon added to the Cozy Collection’s contributions. Today, the Cozy Collection has ambassadors in other classrooms and local schools consisting of students working towards the project’s shared goal. Aguilar has even inspired her 6-year-old brother Joaquin to join the efforts as a school ambassador, which he has done for the past two years.
Aguilar and the collection have also found support outside of their community as well. Donations have been sent to the Cozy Collection from all over the United States, encouraging others to be more conscious of helping others. As a dedicated Philadelphia Eagles fan, Aguilar says that one of her favorite contributions came from a Philadelphia-based supporter who sent Eagles swag for the collection.
Aguilar’s efforts have only gained support and traction. Recently, her Cozy Collection caught the attention of the Disney Channel.
Alert! Alert! Cozy Collection family!The DisneyChannel is running a profile on Maya and her work with The Cozy Collection as part of #hispanicheritagemonth. The official version isn’t online, but Grandpa Art Covarrubias caught the video on his cell phone. You can check out more information on The a Cozy Collection by visiting bigbrowndad.com/cozy.
Posted by The Cozy Collection on Friday, September 21, 2018
Earlier this year, a production company representing the Disney Channel reached out to Aguilar’s parents saying their client was interested in featuring her in a television spot for Hispanic Heritage Month.
Aguilar and her family were initially under the impression that the network wanted to feature the Cozy Collection, but while highlighting the project, Disney Channel honored Aguilar’s efforts with a backyard fiesta and featured her as a main subject. During filming, Disney Channel stars Jenna Ortega— who you’ll recognize from her roles in “Jane the Virgin” and “Stuck in the Middle”— met with Aguilar to hear more about her work and thank her for her philanthropy. The video profile of Aguilar and her Cozy Collection ran on the Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Jr. as part of their celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.
Aguilar’s efforts have only continued to gain traction amongst children and adults who look up to her as a role model.
CREDIT: Photo provided by Carlos Aguilar
This year, news of her Cozy Collection’s work made it all the way to Texas. Her project inspired a Houston Girl Scout troop to adopt the donation program as a service project to benefit their own community.
For Aguilar, encouraging others to realize that they can make a big difference in small ways is also a huge goal of her program. Inspiring people to donate to her collection or to find their own path to philanthropy is truly the message of the Cozy Collection. Her current collection for the November 2018 donation season is currently pushing to gather 10,000 pairs of socks for her community.
Aguilar may be a little girl, but the leadership she has shown is huge and will only evolve as the Cozy Collection grows. It’s obvious that she’s destined for leadership in her community. Aguilar proves that anyone can make a difference. It just takes a little bit of compassion and a lot of hustle.