July 20, 2017: HashtagLunchBag

Incoming 7th, 8th, 9th, and 12th grade students enrolled in the 2017 Summer Youth Development Academy (S-YDA) program participated in two day of service events as a part of the STEM, leadership, and service learning curriculums. Each day of service was a vehicle for students to practice the skills developed in their S-YDA courses by giving back to their surrounding community. The two dates allowed approximately 150 students (combined) to participate in projects that addressed the identified issue of hunger by directly providing food for those in need.

The 7th and 8th grade students learned about STEM through aquaponics, urban farming, and the importance of food sustainability. The 9th grade students developed leadership skills by building confidence within themselves and compassion for others through “improv.” The 12th grade students practiced leadership by acting upon their service learning curriculum and leading the younger students through each service project.

The first day of service was modeled after the initiative #HashtagLunchbag, aimed at “Empowering humanity to create & benefit from organized acts of love.” A #HashtagLunchbag event involves putting together a lunch bag for homeless or disadvantaged persons, inclusive of a meal, kind, hand-written note of encouragement, and the opportunity for both parties to meet and connect face-to-face.

15 12th grade students led 60 9th graders in making 140 lunches consisting of a peanut butter & jelly sandwich, fruit cup, bag of chips, and a water bottle. The lunch bags were completed with the addition of multiple handwritten notes of encouragement and delivered to Harbor Interfaith Services in San Pedro, an organization that provides meals, therapy sessions, and housing to the homeless and working poor. Students handed out the lunch bags to the clients for an hour and a half before returning to camp. It was so meaningful that #HashTagLunchBag wrote about it IN THEIR BLOG.

The monetary value of this service project was approximately $2,000.

August 1, 2017: GRoW Garden Expansion

The second day of service was tailored to the STEM curriculum with partner Ourfoods. 15 12th grade students led the middle school students through the construction of four “desktop model” aquaponics systems and directed them through the offsite service project. 80 7th and 8th grade students traveled with the 12th graders to the Watts Century Latino Organization to expand upon the GRoW Community Garden, a project completed during the 2017 Sharefest Workday. During the Workday, four sustainable, raised-bed planter boxes and a large-scale aquaponics system were installed. During the day of service, students installed two more boxes, learned how the aquaponics system functions and is maintained, and harvested crops growing in the previously-installed boxes. This garden is fully accessible to and used by many families in the Watts community.

The monetary value of this service project was approximately $8,600.

Sharefest is proud to preparing students through hands-on service projects to be a vital source of their community’s growth and betterment.