The holiday season has begun. With Thanksgiving coming later this month, families and friends look forward to gathering together for this festive holiday. Thanksgiving culture relies heavily on food, traditionally celebrated with family members, a big feast and turkey. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy their Thanksgiving holiday without shortages.
Every year, HW Give, the organization at Harvard-Westlake (HW) that helps raise fundraisers and drives for our school, hosts a holiday drive. HW Give consists of 8th and 9th graders who are led by Middle School Director of Student Affairs, Keith Jordan, and Executive assistant to the head of the middle school, Melissa Zimmerman.
The holiday drive consists of a food drive, the toy drive, and the hygiene drive. The hygiene and toy drive are collected for children of Skid Row and is hosted by HW Give. This year, the Character and Leadership Committee (CLC) partnered with HW Give to host this year’s Thanksgiving food drive. Affinity groups, Japanese Language and Culture Club (JLCC), Asian American Culture Club (AACC), Black Leadership And Awareness Culture Club (BLACC), at HW enthusiastically contributed to this project.
JLCC leader, Averie Perrin ‘24, shares her thoughts about her collaboration with HW Give this year. “My role was to spread the news of the drive and encourage others in the affinity space to help out with this drive,” says Perrin.
“I wanted to be part of a greater good….during this pandemic, it had been challenging to reach out to communities who were impacted severely,” says, CLC’s speaker, Aaron Milburn ‘24. “ I thought this was an amazing opportunity to do that very thing.”
Many families are food insecure and lack the necessities to truly enjoy the experience. It is estimated that one in five people in LA county are unaware of where their next meal is coming from, according to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank. Los Angeles, one of the largest populated cities in the state, indicates higher levels of hunger.
Hunger affects all groups of people. Many of which include people with disabilities, low income families, people regardless of educational levels, employment status or ethnicities. Due to the expensive cost of transportation and housing, many struggle to feed themselves on a daily basis.
Director of Bookstore Operations and founder of the Skid Row Holiday Drive, Tina L. Cleveland shares her thoughts on these drives. “A lot of it is displaying humanity…you don’t want to belittle people just because they may not have a home like we have a home”, says Cleveland. “You could be going through harsh times but you are still human”.
HW Give collaborates with the affinity groups to give back to the community on a holiday that is dedicated to give thanks. AACC affinity group leader, Haruka Endo ‘24, shares her thoughts regarding the drive. “Most of us attending Harvard Westlake are privileged, in some sense”, Endo says. “The food drive shows that we want to give back to the community.”
This year, however, donations to the drive are a bit different. The global pandemic has made it even more difficult to reach out towards others that are most vulnerable, however the donation process is quite simple. To donate to the drive, students can order items off the Amazon wishlist and ship the items to our middle school campus.
“Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and be grateful for the things you have…people who are food insecure should still have that opportunity to gather with their family and have a nice meal”, says HW Give member, Sasha Lee ‘24.