SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic forced many San Diego students to study from home, but that did not stop one local teen from reaching out to help people across the border.
Isabella Cubillas, a junior at Academy of Our Lady of Peace, said, "During COVID, we started noticing there were so many people that needed help, especially in a city like Tijuana, where a lot of people have to go to people's homes or find jobs daily."
That's when she helped her cousin, who created “Tijuana Sin Hambre,” a nonprofit organization on a mission to help families south of the border with members who lost their jobs during the pandemic, and were in need of essentials and food.
Isabella said in San Diego there were resources within reach, but in cities like Tijuana, it was more difficult for people to find that same assistance they too were in dire need of.
"We'd go meet them, find out what they needed, and we'd personalize it. If they needed diapers, for example, we'd give that to them,” said Isabella.
The group has helped over 20,000 Mexican residents, thanks to their 300 volunteers. Isabella hopes their organization continues to grow, even when things get back to normal. She created a club at her high school promoting the organization with the same name, “Tijuana Sin Hambre.”
"During COVID, we're not able to interact as much, but we're able to spread awareness and talk about what's going on. We see a lot that we don't talk about it, and we need people to talk about it, so they know," Isabella urged.
COVID-19 halted a lot of things for teens like Isabella, but she said it was the mission of giving back in a time of need where she had never felt more alive.
"There's a natural reward feeling you get once you help people. We've shared so many tears, laughter, and so much with the people we've met, and it's changed my life. It will continue making an impact for myself,” Isabella said.