Thomas Jefferson

High School | Home of the Spartans

Hungry to Help Others

Posted 04/21/2021 by Ben Abram

SkillsUSA TJ Officers stand around the 60 lunches they bagged. Pictured left to right: Gabriella DeMaria, Isaac Whistler, Cecilia Prime-Morales, Grace Coviello, Ben Abram, Jerry Esparza, Evan Valdes-Halterman. photo courtesy of SkillsUSA TJ

SkillsUSA officers at Thomas Jefferson High School volunteered on March 1st to create bagged lunches for women in homeless shelters in Denver

TJ’s SkillsUSA chapter has not taken this unique year off. Instead of waiting patiently for this seemingly endless pandemic to pass by, SkillsUSA at TJ has found many different ways to safely get involved and help others. Their most recent project involved the officer team at TJ getting together the first weekend of March to make sandwiches, bag lunches, and distribute lunches to women in Denver as a part of the Women’s Homeless Initiative. SkillsUSA, a student-led organization, is very service-oriented and focuses on the unique skills within their framework, divided into Workplace, Personal, and Technical skills grounded in academics. 

After exceeding expectations during the Thanksgiving food drive that SkillsUSA TJ hosted, the chapter chose to set a very high goal for their next endeavor. Their goal was to help the Women’s Homeless Initiative by creating and distributing 60 bagged lunches with inclusive options for dietary restrictions. Another crucial standard set by this chapter was to ensure that this volunteer experience followed COVID-19 protocols in order to ensure the safety of not only the SkillsUSA members but also those who received the lunches.

Sophomore Kate Little, a new officer on the SkillsUSA team at TJ, offered a location for the officer team to work together in person to bag the 60 lunches. The team arrived early in the morning on March 1st, eager to get to work with the supplies brought by their SkillsUSA Advisor, Jerry Esparza. The crew set out their materials in separate stations to keep exposure and interaction limited to practice safe distancing. While volunteering has always been encouraged, it is notably admirable during this pandemic, as people are risking a lot to help those who are desperately in need. For SkillsUSA officers like junior Cecilia Prime-Morales, volunteering was about dedicating more than just some time. Prime-Morales shared, “I really wanted to be a part of something that would help out the community. A lot of people are going through a really hard time right now, and I wanted to do something to help out people who have been struggling.” Self-motivation, a personal skill embedded within the framework of SkillsUSA, was a skill intentionally set by the team in order to complete this service project. This desire to help others is what motivated these officers to work so hard and ultimately achieve their goals by bagging all 60 lunches. “It was a really nice experience. We were able to all get together and have a really fun time while also giving back to the community,” added Prime-Morales, as the volunteer event was successful with no complications towards their original plan. With more service projects, celebrations, and a selection of state qualifiers set to compete the first two weeks of April, SkillsUSA TJ has bright things on the horizon.