Students learn as they help others

Crescenta Valley High School students help deliver food to the homeless in Los Angeles’ Skid Row.

 Members from CV High School’s LOOK club traveled to Skid Row where they joined with other volunteers to serve the homeless. Photo by Jennifer TANJI
Members from CV High School’s LOOK club traveled to Skid Row where they joined with other volunteers to serve the homeless. Photo by Jennifer TANJI

By Hyung Seok LEE

CV Weekly Intern

Local students took time from their winter break to learn up close and personal what life was like for those living on Skid Row.

LOOK International Development club visited the impoverished area of L.A. to deliver food and clothing to about 400 people. While there students learned a bit about the struggles of the  homeless in L.A.

A first-year club from Crescenta Valley High School, LOOK is devoted to understanding poverty and aiding undeveloped areas. LOOK partnered with Christian Assembly, a church in Eagle Rock, to travel downtown to personally engage with the Skid Row community and witness the poverty that exists only a few miles away.

Skid Row is located in down town Los Angeles. There are an estimated 8,000 homeless people living there with many addicted to drugs and afflicted with mental illness.

“These people are suffering and they need help,” said advisor Yung Chung. “I hope that our club understands the local poverty before we move forward [on a global scale].”

On Saturday, Dec. 19, students met at Holy Gate Evangelical Church in La Crescenta at 5 p.m. and made 150 food bags. The bags consisted of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, water bottle, fruits, and a granola bar. Students cracked jokes as they packed and worked diligently. The packing took a total of four hours.

The next morning, the students gathered in front of the CVHS flagpole at 7:30 a.m. Though dedicated to their mission, the earliness of the hour was not lost on some as they arrived rubbing their eyes or panting from racing to be on time from their homes.

The students were accompanied by Pia Hugo, a history teacher at CV high school and a leader for the Christian Assembly Church.

“I am really tired, but am really excited at the same time,” said advisor Alex Lee.

Twenty students piled into five cars and drove to Christian Assembly Church where its members joined them. In total, 60 volunteers traveled to Skid Row.

After arriving, LOOK members were split into groups of four. Each group grabbed 20 food bags and several articles of clothing and went out into the community. An experienced volunteer accompanied each group.

Part of LOOK’s Skid Row Project was for students to go out into the community and see life on the streets, so instead of sitting in one location waiting for people to come by, the students brought the food and clothes to the local folks. They sometimes walked several blocks into the community. The volunteers handed items out to those who could not make it to the hot food tables headed by Christian Assembly.

“I have passed this area so many times, but never really saw what was going on,” volunteer John Jung said.

After distributing all the items, LOOK returned to the hot food site. There they engaged in conversation with the homeless. A few students prayed with them, gave out food, or simply listened to their life story.

“I really appreciate what you guys are doing for us. You guys are so young, but you care so much. Thank you,” said “Chris”, a former homeless man.

The event ran smoothly. At the site, there was live music, a gift give-away, hot food distribution, and a lot of conversation. Not a single bag of food was left, and everyone walked away with a smile on their face.

While educational, the experience was also humbling.

“As cliché as this sounds, what people need to realize is that the homeless people are people, too. They suffered tremendously in their lives,” said club vice president Helen Han. “I came in with the mentality that they do not have jobs because they are lazy. However, almost all of them want a job. They don’t want to live on the streets. Some even have families to feed. I live in such a good neighborhood and I have been ignorant to this. I want to see change and I will work to see that change happen.”