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Jesuit tradition provides 300 families with meals

Students join forces to organize annual holiday food drive

Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jesuit High School students work to pack meal boxes for families in need.On Thursday morning, Dec. 18, the student center at Jesuit High School became a sorting and distribution center, where food and non-perishable items collected in the past two weeks were packed and delivered to hundreds of Portland-area families.

This year marked the 46th annual food drive for Jesuit. It also marked Scott Powers’ 10th year overseeing the event as food drive coordinator.

Participation continues to increase year after year. Students and their families returned to take part in the event in order to raise awareness of hunger and give back to their local community by helping to drop off and deliver food to the school and going door-to-door.

“In my neighborhood, one helpful way was to ask people to leave a bag or box of food out, and we’d come back to pick it up at a later time,” said Utkarsh Yadav, a junior at JHS. “It’s really effective this way because we don’t have to bother them, and it gives them time.”

The event is organized primarily by JHS students, which required them to be a part of a food drive committee, coordinate door-to-door canvasing, reach out to local businesses for donations, as well as organize sales to raise money to put toward the food drive. JHS seniors were also responsible for recruiting and educating freshman students about the food drive.

In the span of two weeks, students raised more than $15,000 to purchase perishable food items that included ham, turkey, milk, apples, oranges, squash, cabbage and onions in addition to a non-perishable box for each family. One parent noted that asking for donations this time of the year had its challenges. She was dropping off a 500-pound load of potatoes as a family donation, purchased at cost through a Lake Oswego market. Though that sounds like plenty of mash, their initial goal was 3,600-pounds.

“It’s really hard to find people this time of year willing to donate, because they’re being asked to donate a lot,” said Jennifer Mayerle, a parent volunteer.

Meanwhile, the JHS student center resembled a small grocery store with 80 student shoppers preparing hundreds of food boxes. They selected items for meals along with staple foods carefully from the dozens of tables covered with canned goods and non-perishable items. The contents of the boxes will serve a family of four to six members. More importantly, it will mean that one more family will not be left hungry this holiday season.

Jesuit senior Anika Raghuvanshi said, “Since I’ve done this year after year, it really brings out the Christmas feeling for me. Being able to give to other people, you feel really fortunate. Delivering in the previous year, I’ve seen just how grateful people are for what we’re doing.”

“The kids know that they’re helping people directly. The families are so overwhelmed with the generosity from the students,” added Mayerle.

Raghuvanshi said one of the biggest challenges was to find time to do canvassing. But that the most important thing was to put time toward the food drive itself.

“There’s a great need. We’re delivering near the Jesuit area. We’re also delivering on the Eastside of the metro area. Hunger is not just at Christmas time,” Powers said. “People seem to be more generous this time of year, so we’re taking advantage of that.”Photo Credit: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jesuit High School students work to pack meal boxes for families in need.


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