For many around NDB, the holiday season is time to celebrate and share with family and friends. Americans nationwide celebrate Thanksgiving, a time where we look wide to all the points of gratitude and, well, give thanks for these moments. Still, there are those in our community who are not as fortunate, so this time is a great opportunity to be able to help out in the area as a sign of thanks. Both NDB and other various organizations in the Bay Area are helping people give back.
On November 18, NDB held their monthly community service drive, but this month the focus was on two different organizations: The Service League of San Mateo County and the Samaritan House. The Service League collected warm clothing for recently released incarcerated men and women, as well as school supplies for their children. The Samaritan House collected children’s clothing for their Kids Closet, a free thrift closet for low-income children. Both organizations are helping to ensure these people stay warm as we enter the winter season. In the end, NDB collected 150 bags of clothing and 25 bags of school supplies. For this drive, the freshman and sophomore class tied for first in spirit points, and the juniors and seniors tied for second place.
Many annual Thanksgiving service events have had to change their format to adjust for COVID-19 protocols. For example, the annual Thanksgiving Curbside Turkey Drive held by St. Anthony’s in San Francisco will now be holding their drive completely online. Instead of dropping off food donations, which will serve over 3,000 people on Thanksgiving, donors this year will “shop” on their website to collect donations. If interested, the link to donate can be found here.
“We usually have 80 volunteers on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day, but sadly we can’t have that and people can’t come inside to eat the food. We’re still going to try our best to make it like a family feel for our guests. There are seven tents outside that they actually tested out today to see how it would go so that folks can have individual seating placements to eat the Thanksgiving meal. I think they’re gonna try to add a special touch of passing out hot apple cider. Yeah, we’re gonna do the little things,” said St. Anthony’s Educational Group Volunteer Coordinator Erika Hapa on their plans for holiday meals.
Another local organization helping us give back to warm up our community’s spirit this season is Dreams33. This is a nonprofit organization that works to ensure children in the foster system reach their educational goals.
“Dreams33 really came, I thought of it, about three or four years ago when I read a People magazine article about a young woman who was graduating USC and had been in foster care, and she stated in there that only 3% of foster youth will graduate college, and I just thought that’s absolutely not enough,” said founder Tori Humphrey. “I myself was a teacher for 10 years, my mom was a teacher. I take education very seriously, my family does, and I just started to think about kids who don’t have, for me was automatic. I knew I was going to college and I didn’t really know for a long time that people did things a different way. And I like helping people, I like education, and so it’s kind of a great way to combine those two things.”
On Tuesday, November 24, they will be holding their Giving Tuesday where money donations will be used to make “cheer boxes” for the students they serve. These boxes will contain various items like gift cards, hand sanitizer, and fun holiday treats. Donations will be collected here.
“The main idea behind that and what we’re mostly raising money for … we know that they can really use that extra financial help, and the rest of it is just sort of a way to, you know, give them something cheery and fun,” said Humphrey on Dreams33 plans for holiday giving.
Even without physical monetary donations, the impacts of service can still be made during this season. NDB’s Community Service Catalog is still available with year-round activities to give back no matter the season. One example of a great way to give back is to write letters to those in our community showing compassion for these people and drop them off in the collection box at NDB. More information can be found in the catalog.
The best way for high school students to get involved with these nonprofit organizations? Social media. Being able to share what these organizations are doing and giving them publicity is extremely important, especially during COVID-19 when in-person volunteering is limited.
“When it comes to social media, the high school kids know where it’s at. They know where to find things, you can do so much just to spread the word. And I think that will be huge,” said Dreams33 director Sam Wickstrom on how high school students can help give back.
“You all can continue to be advocates within your own community… just sharing these posts that we have… just simply sharing. Sharing the information that we already have, in addition to the volunteer opportunities,” said Hapa on the influence of social media.
The best way to give back this season is to show our community love. Whether it is a smile on the street, dropping cans or clothes off at a donation box, or calling an old friend, during uncertain times like these, a little bit of kindness can go a long way.