Clara Hinds – Bay Area Furniture Bank Volunteer 2023

Clara Hinds, a high school senior, has already given back to her community in ways that surpass the efforts of many adults.

She has been volunteering for three years with the Bay Area Furniture Bank, helping the nonprofit group in its mission to promote dignity and stability by assembling furniture for families in need.

Hinds, 17, started volunteering a few years ago with a student from another school. Soon after, she formed her own group, “Friends of the Furniture Bank,” and recruited fellow classmates at her Cupertino high school to join in.

Under Hinds’ leadership, the student group assembles desks and other furniture from parts bought by BAFB, which recently merged with Abode Services. The students like the idea of helping children and adults who are in need. They also like the process of cooperating and working together as a group.

“I like assembling furniture,” Hinds said. “I think it’s satisfying because it’s more tanglible than other ways of volunteering – you’re literally building a thing and doing it together.”

The early days of the pandemic hindered the group’s plans but they found creative solutions, masking up and socially distancing outside to assemble dressers, night stands, desks, and other items.

Over the past three years, the student group has assembled and donated at least 600 pieces of furniture, Hinds said. They also held bake sales and started online campaigns to raise $2,500, to match the fundraising goal set for them by Ray Piontek, the late founder of BAFB. What started out as a volunteer group has become a passion project shared among friends, Hinds said. In addition, the students get the satisfaction of assisting hundreds of people who are less fortunate.

“When we see the number of furniture pieces that we make, it’s kinda staggering to think that’s going to a certain number of people or households,” Hinds said. “This furniture is going to help people and that keeps us coming back.”

Hinds will major in physics when she attends the University of Chicago in the fall. She said there are similarities between physics and her volunteerism.

“When you’re putting together furniture, you can get into the zone where you’re not thinking about it,” she said. “And when I’m doing algebra, there’s a point when I’m in the zone, time goes by quickly, and I enjoy it. It’s a nice consistent stream of steps being done and goals being accomplished.”

When Hinds leaves for college, she hopes to give back to her new community as she did in the South Bay.

“It makes me feel good to know that my actions can make a difference in so many people’s lives,” she said.