Arizona’s Heart & Sol: High school entrepreneur helps homeless

Published: Nov. 25, 2021 at 7:45 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - This week we’re recognizing a local high school student who is using her business to give back.

Leyla Cortez is a Salpointe High School senior who started Leyla’s Crafty Creations, a shop that sells homemade desserts and candies, during the pandemic.

“I didn’t expect it to take off this way, but it has been the biggest blessing ever,” Cortez said.

She’s using her business to make a positive impact.

“Its a big thing of mine to give back to the community and use my platform to do good because the community has given so much to me,” she said.

Cortez collected more than 400 pounds of food, clothing and blankets to help the homeless last Thanksgiving. This year she held another donation drive and used her shop’s social media to spread the word and collect donations.

“It’s kind of surreal knowing I’m only 17 and I’m able to do this stuff,” Cortez said.

She and her friends gave out homemade treats from Leyla’s Crafty Creations in exchange for donations. The donated items will go to Gospel Rescue Mission and Youth On Their Own, two local non-profits that Cortez’s mom introduced her to years ago.

“She’s taught me since I was young. We would go to homeless shelters and especially on Thanksgiving. She’s the reason this business even exists,” Cortez said. “I owe everything to her, she’s my main source of happiness and motivation.”

Her dedication to the community has been an inspiration for her own friends.

“I’m super proud of Leyla she’s amazing and I have no doubt in my mind a couple years from now she’s going to be doing extremely big things,” said Davian Carrasco, a Salpointe High School student.

Cortez received a gift card from our sponsor Casino del Sol and knows exactly where it will go

“I want to do a toy drive in December so it can help in preparation for that,” she said.

If you have someone you think embodies the “Heart and Sol of Arizona,” nominate them here.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.