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A Helping Hand for the Holidays

Posted 11/18/2021 by Campbell Mahoney

The SkillsUSA food drive collects food to hand out over the holidays. photo by Jerry Esparza

The SkillsUSA food drive is helping families find a source of food just in time for the holiday season. 

Hunger and the need for food play a massive role in any human being’s life. It drives our motivation, focus, and happiness. For families without the necessary amount of food, the SkillsUSA food drive steps in to help the Thomas Jefferson High School community. 

The SkillsUSA food drive started around ten years ago. The organization wanted to help families during the holiday season by providing a Thanksgiving meal for those who needed one. Jerry Esparza, the advisor of SkillsUSA, is an important part in providing food for the many families that need it. “We’re trying to provide at least 80 families with a Thanksgiving dinner,” said Esparza. In past years, the number of families that the drive helped was around 20-30. However, the effects of COVID-19 are apparent this year, and the food drive is helping more families than ever before. 

In order to find out how many families need food, TJ’s social worker Samanda Davis sends out an email. Then, any family that would like to receive food can simply apply by responding to the email and the drive does its best to support them. The food drive would not exist without the help of the students and parents at TJ. Any family that can is encouraged to donate food, preferably non-perishable items, and any extra donations allow the club to add a little more food to give back to every family. The SkillsUSA food drive also works closely with the TJ food bank. Parent Megan Perkins, Founder and Co-President of the food bank, said that her favorite part about participating is that she could “help people who really need the help and give them one of the basic necessities of life.” She has worked with the food bank for two years and does not plan to stop anytime soon. Her incredible dedication to giving back to the TJ community is truly an amazing thing as they have “helped nearly 500 families over two years.” 

The president of SkillsUSA, senior Cece Morales, feels similarly to Perkins. “Helping people in need and being able to do it on such a large scale is one of my favorite things about the food drive,” said Morales. She has been a part of SkillsUSA since her sophomore year at TJ and enjoys that the food drive gives her a chance to give back to the community. She has donated to the drive before and continuously encourages others around her to do the same. 

The dedication of Davis, Esparza, Perkins, and Morales to the TJ community is astonishing. With the help of others in SkillsUSA and the TJ food bank, they are giving back to TJ families and making it possible for them to have a Thanksgiving dinner, something that every family should be able to experience. The holiday season is a time to be thankful instead of worrying about food, and the SkillsUSA food drive is making that a reality.