Last month, 900 students throughout Monterey County took part in several projects aimed at helping local homeless individuals receive hot meals and personal hygiene supplies.
Students from three Washington Union School District schools and Santa Catalina Middle School collected nearly $7,700 dollars and loaded a pickup with clean socks and various toiletries. The items were donated to Dorothy's Place Hospitality Center in Salinas, which operates three shelter programs and a soup kitchen.
The four schools raised enough money to provide for 38,000 meals to be served at the kitchen this year. The toiletries and socks will be distributed to the program's guests after the next sweep by city officials.
The two-week joint project, called "The Lunch Bag Project," was conceived by Dorothy's Place to encourage individuals in companies and schools to raise awareness of homelessness issues and garner support for the soup kitchen. Teachers used curricula designed by Karyn Wolfe of the Franciscan Workers of Junipero Serra, which operates Dorothy's Place, to educate students about homelessness, poverty, hunger and community service.
Washington Elementary School Principal Nancy Hayes said her students and their friends and family "really went wild collecting toiletry items."
Packed into kits to be distributed to the guests at Dorothy's Place, each kit contains a hand-drawn notecard by the students with messages such as "Don't give up," "Love Life," and "I hope you like this package and have a better life."