Hometown Hero Linda Banjongraksa
What do you live for? What gets you up in the morning? What defines how you live your life? For Linda Banjongraksa, it’s opening her eyes to the people around her who are struggling and responding with help, whether those people are Desoto homeless, or victims of human trafficking in Thailand.
Banjongraksa is the Cafeteria Manager at Irma Lerma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School. Going to work each day she noticed a population of homeless people. Her response was not to shy away, but to begin visiting this community, trying to understand their needs. Throughout the year, she buys items on sale or being sold in bulk—like food, toiletries, clothing--and, with her husband, delivers the items to this homeless community. In the winter, she runs a blanket drive at the school to collect blankets to help the homeless people survive the cold. One day she saw a woman who was shivering in icy temperatures. Banjongraksa gave the woman her warm outer coat. She has become their friend; someone who sees and values them.
Learning of her acts of kindness, the school enlisted her help to oversee their volunteer efforts. Banjongraksa now takes groups of students to different community volunteer activities, such as working at soup kitchens or assisting in homeless shelters. It was Banjongraksa who, when Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti in 2016, formed a group to pack and ship a whole pallet of dry food to the country, funded by a sponsorship from the Women Repository Network.