PEAS group raises awareness about helping the planet

Sophomore Bella Carillo and her father , Joseph Carillo, pick up trash by Wal-Mart in Cedar Falls. They filled five or six large paper bags full of trash on their mission to make the world a cleaner and prettier place. PEAS aims to clean up the planet and help those who are less fortunate to ultimately make the world a better place.

When sophomore Bella Carillo blinks her eyes open in the morning and pulls her curtains back, she doesn’t just see the white blankets of snow, but analyzes the trash covering the earth and the people who are homeless and stuck in this icy freeze. 

Carillo struggles with anxiety related to the changing earth and wants to be able to do something about the evolving Earth and calm her anxieties. Last summer she decided to create the non-profit organization PEAS (Protecting the Earth and Society). 

PEAS’ goal is to help clean up our Earth, tend to the less fortunate and to open the eyes of the more fortunate to how easy it is to help out people in society who are struggling and our planet. 

Carillo’s family inspired her to create PEAS by their giving personalities. “My grandma has always been helping people, and we used to live with her. Every time she used to help somebody, we would go along with her and make little care packages to give to homeless people,” Carillo said. “ So that stuck with me, just giving to people who need help.” 

Carillo’s father has also invested time in helping make PEAS successful. “He is my right hand man the whole time. He is the most supportive person in all of this,” she said. “My dad helps me organize everything. He is more of an upfront man; he kind of puts the things into action. He’s like magic or something.” 

Other than her family, Carillo said she is also motivated to keep helping by the beauty of the earth and feeling she gets when helping others. “I remember during cleanups I always look at the area we are cleaning, and I just think of how crazy it is that we as a whole can live with our earth looking the way it is. Then I think of how beautiful it looks after we are done. It looks untouched,” she said. 

“Then I remember helping people by handing out care packages to the homeless, and I remember seeing their faces light up when they see we are trying to help them. It’s such a warming feeling knowing that they have at least a smaller meal rather than nothing,” she said.  

To help spread the awareness of helping others and the planet, Carillo has teamed up with business owners around the Cedar Falls for collection spots for cans for food drives and clothes for clothing drives. The current stores that are supporting PEAS are The Finishing Touch on College Hill, Main Street Sweets and Main Street Fitness. At the end of the drives, the food goes to the Northeast Iowa Food Bank, and the clothes go to House of Hope and Cedar Valley Friends and Family.

PEAS started a food drive at the Cedar Falls High School, which just ended on Jan. 20. Carillo said she hopes to bring another one to the school in March.

For the future, Carillo said she wants to keep seeing PEAS inspiring people to help. “Just continuing to fix things. Just seeing other people get involved with this and other people helping. Then I know it has a ripple effect and other people start to help and, hopefully, eventually a lot of people are starting to help out and fixing everything,” she said. 

To learn more about PEAS and when and where they will have events going on, follow their Instagram @protecting_earth_and_society_.

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