By: VICTORIA COBOS
More than 335,000 people struggle with hunger in Orange County, according to Second Harvest Food Bank of O.C. UHS hosts Character Week each year as a way to target such issues and to demonstrate the four Trojan Pillars: respect, responsibility, integrity, and compassion. Different events are held throughout the week during which students can give back to their community and recognize what they obtain.
Over 50 people participated in one of the most popular events of the week, PB & J’s at the Crossroads, an occasion hosted by ASB where everyone comes together and makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as an effort to help feed those in need.
This year, UHS made roughly 230 sandwiches. However, many students are unaware of the process that follows the event and how their efforts directly impact the community. How many sandwiches are made? What happens to these sandwiches after they are made? Where do they go? Who do they help? Does it really affect the community they are donated to?
ASB counts the sandwiches once they are made and pack them in boxes. Then, ASB Co-Supervisor, Mrs. Michelle Fox (World Languages Dept.), delivers the boxes to Second Harvest Food Bank, where they are checked for safety first and are put in the inventory system. Second Harvest’s community partners, nonprofit organizations, and low income individuals can then either pick up the food or order it online.
ASB Event Coordinators Neah Lekan (Jr.) and Brandon Kaufman (Sr.) debated between donating to Second Harvest Food Bank or Families Forward.
“We picked Second Harvest because they are more of a food bank and took the pre-made sandwiches, versus Families Forward who takes more of cans and other goods,” explained Kaufman. “Either way, whatever organization you can help out with is amazing.”
However, one recurring problem with the charitable event is the common peanut allergy.
“I think something to get around that [peanut allergy] is to maybe substitute peanut butter for something else like sun nut butter,” Kaufman clarified. “But I think that it was a cost efficient idea that still demonstrated to students how easy it is to contribute to the community. It sucks that some people couldn’t come because of their allergies but in the future, hopefully we can find a way to work around that.”
Even so, many student impacted their community more than they may have realized. The week reminded them that there are people less fortunate than themselves, motivating them to help those in need. Character Week teaches UHS students a crucial lesson: even as high school students, there are limitless ways to better the community, no matter how small the act.