Lake Highlands resident Emma Qualia hasn’t made it to eighth grade yet, but she’s already founded a charity to feed the homeless and help the needy. The 12-year-old was recently featured on NBC Channel 5’s morning news segment “Tell Me Something Good” when she delivered blankets to the homeless in downtown Dallas.
Emma, who graduated last year from White Rock Elementary and now attends the magnet program at Westwood Junior High, told me she founded Sandwiches 4 the Hungry because she wanted to serve her community. She recruits help from people willing to donate food, assemble sandwiches and deliver meals, often feeding 250 people per visit.
I asked if she was intimidated – afraid, even – when interacting with people who live on Dallas’ streets.
“I’m not afraid because that’s how I was raised,” Emma said matter-of-factly. “I see them as regular people, and I want to help.”
Her decision to distribute donated blankets resulted from seeing homeless people huddled in the cold when she served Thanksgiving meals at Austin Street Shelter. Family and friends came to her aid, she said, and recipients were deeply grateful.
“My family has been so supportive of me, and my neighborhood has been so kind donating. My message to anyone who has helped is that I’m so thankful that you are willing to help and, you don’t know how much of a difference you are making.”
Emma said she wants to continue delivering items monthly and asking what homeless people in Dallas need.
“The best way to help is a $5 recurring donation, because if we can get 50 people to do that, that’s over 155 comforters in a year.”