When University of Miami sophomores Jacques Calixte and Ivette Acosta were in high school, they dreamed of establishing a back to school drive that served the local communities most in need. This year, their dream has come to fruition.
“It’s definitely really important that I’m giving back to my own community,” said Acosta, a biology major on the premed track. “Because this is not only where I’ve been for 20 years, but it’s where I want to be for the rest of my life.”
Acosta and Calixte spent this semester organizing a charity drive for students in South Florida, a project they have dubbed the “305 Give Back Drive.” They are currently accepting donations at three locations in the Miami area: Immaculata-La Salle High School, Belen Jesuit Preparatory School and UM.
“At first I was like, hey, let’s still do this job,” said Calixte, who is studying health sciences and philosophy. “But instead of doing it with our own high school, let’s sort of expand on it and do it with a bunch of different organizations like high school campuses.”
Acosta and Calixte were the presidents of their school’s math and English honors societies in high school, respectively. While the two have been friends since their freshman year, Acosta came up with the idea to give back to their community during their senior year and asked Calixte if the math honors society could collect books and calculators for students in need.
But just as they were about to begin, the COVID-19 pandemic hit schools across the state and put their plans on hold. Now, the two hope to make up for lost time by working hard and giving back.
Calixte and Acosta say they are motivated by a desire to help people in need and hope to work in the medical field one day. Calixte is studying to be a cardiologist and Acosta hopes to work in women’s health, but both say they are most interested in providing people with the care they need most.
“I’m very passionate about making sure that all women have access to the health care they need, especially low income women, making sure that they have access to prenatal care,” Acosta said.
Calixte was heavily involved in community service throughout high school, but says he felt the school’s efforts did not extend to the communities closest to them.
“We would go to places, you know, outside of the U.S. or outside of Miami, which is all fine and good, but we also wanted to help Miami,” Calixte said.
Calixte then began searching for schools in need in the Miami area and found Toussaint Louverture Elementary in Little Haiti, which lacked the supplies needed by some students. Now, he is working to provide students in the area the resources they need to thrive.
Calixte and Acosta attribute the drive’s success to the people who have donated and helped run the operation. Acosta says nothing could have worked without Calixte’s efforts to inform the community.
“He’s very good with spreading the news and all that, and then my strengths are kind of the organizational part of it. I’m very, very detailed, very organized. So I’ll do all of that,” Acosta said. “And then Jaq will spread the news. He’s a very good friend.”
Calixte says he hopes to establish the drive as an annual operation that can serve communities extending throughout Florida and beyond.
“I’ll definitely be creating different executive teams and expanding on this project as it goes on in the future, but I’m just going to take it one step at a time and focus on this year for now,” Calixte continued.
Calixte says any students interested in giving back to the Miami communities in need of support can contribute to 305 Give Back and use their experiences to grow as care providers and volunteers.
“Beyond the fact that you’ll be getting community service hours and getting a certificate or putting it on a resume, it really is a great way to funnel resources back into Miami, into care areas,” Calixte said.
Acosta and Calixte completed their final delivery of materials to Toussaint Louverture Elementary on Saturday Oct. 4, 2021. For updates on their future plans for the drive, visit @305givebackdrive on Instagram and their website at https://305givebackdrive.weebly.com/.