On Thursday, Dec. 20, Jesuit's Student Center will become a food sorting and distribution center with piles of canned food that nearly reach the 15-foot ceiling. The JHS student body will bring all of the food that has been collected over a two-week period and begin compiling food boxes for 375 families in the Portland area. Last year, enough food was pledged by first period classes for 605 families. Students have committed to the same amount this year.
The JHS food drive is in its 50th year and has seen a huge increase in participation over the years. In its first year, 1969, roughly 40 families benefited from the project and just a little more than $350 was raised.
"As Jesuit High School has grown, so has its food drive. The drive not only helps families during Christmas, but also provides non-perishable foods for local food banks as well. We are seeing more multigenerational families, families pooling resources to try and make ends meet. The need is tremendous," said Scott Powers, food drive coordinator.
Students, faculty, and staff will volunteer through the night of Dec. 19 sorting and preparing the food for delivery on Thursday, Dec. 20, beginning at noon. "Not only are we collecting food these two weeks, we are raising awareness about hunger in Oregon. We hope students will realize hunger is not a once-a-year issue. It is year-round," said Powers.
The families are pre-selected through St. Vincent de Paul and Lifeworks Oregon. Students will deliver all of the food that has been collected at Jesuit High School over the prior two weeks.
In addition, alumni of Jesuit High School will host their own food drive the weekend of December 20-22. Alumni will deliver to over 1,500 families and 30 local shelters. Packing begins on Thursday, Dec. 20, immediately following the conclusion of the student drive."The Alumni Food Drive brings our community together to continue our mission of being men and women for others," said Kathy Baarts, Alumni Director. "The need for food continues to increase and we have continued to grow in the number of boxes we are able to provide and the agencies we are able to serve."