By Priscilla Ortega
Every year, our school holds an annual Meet Each Need with Dignity (MEND) drive, during which students are encouraged to donate as many canned goods as possible to help out families in need. The Associated Student Body even offers an incentive by awarding the homeroom with the most canned goods collected a pizza party.
For the students, this drive means taking a few minutes to round up canned goods already sitting in their kitchens at home. This should be an easy task with a large amount of student participation. However, walking into each of my classes, it is disappointing to see the empty MEND drive boxes or boxes with only a few cans. Why is there such lack of participation in our student body? With over 4,600 students at our school if each student were to even bring at least one canned item, these boxes would easily be filled.
What students need to understand is that not only is donating to the MEND drive easy, it is a good way of getting involved and making a difference to people in our own communities. The more people that donate, the better the community can be. Collecting cans is one of the easiest way of giving back to the community, but it can also be deeply rewarding to yourself if you consider the meals a family will have because of your efforts.
According to the latest government census, over 20 percent of the population in Los Angeles is living below the poverty level. That’s a lot of people who need our help.
One of the most important aspects of helping others is in knowing that you are are making a difference. MEND is the largest organization in Los Angeles which provides direct distribution to clients in need. They depend on numerous food drives from supermarkets, churches, schools, businesses and other organizations in the area. Without our help, they would not be able to provide food items to those who are in need. Every can you donate brings us one step closer to helping someone in need.
“I think my biggest motivation is helping the students realize that they can make a difference. The MEND drive is a really easy way of getting students involved. If everyone helps a little bit, we can make a huge difference,” social studies teacher John Yamazaki said.
Yamazaki has been consistently successful in getting his students to bring in canned goods. His class has won the school’s competition for the past four years. He has been successful because he reminds his students on a daily basis. In addition, he has reminders written on his board and always emphasizes the of the importance of giving back and making a difference. His message of helping others in need is strongly embraced by his students as he himself deeply believes it.
Giving is contagious. The more you give and spread your passion for giving back to others, the more others will give. When you give, you create a ripple effect, spreading generosity throughout the school.
“Students only see one side of the MEND drive in their classrooms, but the donations we receive overall are very appreciated not only by ASB, but the families that our school gets to help out. In fact, since we had such high participation last year, MEND wrote us a thank you letter for donating about 1,500 can within our school,” senior Courtney Azari said.
Oftentimes, students claim they do not have time to volunteer due to other commitments. However, this is a simple way of getting involved and making a difference without having to compromise your busy schedules.
In the end, we are all trying to make the world a better place. Helping others can make you feel happier and make your life more fulfilled. Donating is a selfless act and is hugely empowering. One of the major positive effects of donating to the less fortunate is simply feeling good about yourself. Being able to give back to those in need helps you achieve a sense of personal growth and connects you to your community.