Outwardly, Maya Aguilar might seem like your typical 6-year-old girl. She attends first grade at Condit Elementary School in Claremont and she plays on the soccer team with her friends.
But inside, the first grader is a conscientious, "old soul" who's taken it upon herself to start "The Cozy Collection," a donation effort that collects socks and blankets for the homeless to keep them warm during the cold winter months.
When she saw a homeless man last month on the side of the road, her first instinct was to help.
"She's very conscious of these things," said Angie Covarrubias Aguilar, her mother. "We don't know where it comes from."
Maya, who started and named "The Cozy Collection" herself, is a person whose generous spirit transcends.
In mid-October, the Aguilar family didn't know how to spend the money they collected from recycling. Angie suggested they use it to buy their father a birthday gift. Her daughter wasn't convinced. But when she saw the homeless man on the side of the road, she immediately asked her mother if they could give away the recycling money to help him.
"We had a discussion, and Maya wanted to give 'cozy things' to the homeless," Angie said.
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And "The Cozy Collection" was born.
Maya was active in getting others involved. She made a flier asking for donations of new pairs of socks and gently used blankets. She spread the word to her classmates and soccer teammates. Her parents, through social media, shared it with friends and family and collected money to buy more cozy items.
Two weeks later, the Aguilar family collected and donated almost 2,000 pairs of socks and 70 blankets to the Mercy House in Ontario, which provides housing and comprehensive services to the homeless.
"I feel good about myself," Maya said after she dropped off the donations. She hopes to make "The Cozy Collection" an annual event.
"We're proud of her as parents, but we're also moved by her," Angie said.
She said her daughter has always been able to empathize with what she sees around her. Maya takes the time to pick up trash in public places. She became a vegetarian at 3 years old, because she couldn't imagine eating a living thing. Her 3-year-old brother, Joaquin, has never tasted meat because he's following her example.
"I think as adults, we're so desensitized to these things," her mother said. "But when a child kind of forces you to explain, it makes you think, 'I do have those 15 minutes to help.'"