There are so many superfluous clubs in high school that it’s difficult to know which ones will be worth your time. There are the “fluff” clubs, the interest clubs, the academic clubs, the honor societies, and, of course, the service clubs. At my school at least, there are a ton of these–clubs that are usually run through nonprofit organizations and hold events like clothing or food drives, hold fundraisers, and aim to help a cause as a part of their mission. However, it is rare to find a service club that works directly in accordance with their cause; most simply raise money or hold trivial awareness days that ultimately serve no lasting purpose or make no real shifts in the world or in others’ lives. The only club I’ve found that does no such thing is the Bridges Club at my high school, run through the Bridges Outreach nonprofit organization.
What We Do
The Bridges Outreach program aims to “bring the housed and homeless together in community” by delivering meals, clothing, and other necessities to the homeless in nearby towns and cities. The Bridges Club at my school makes and delivers 300 lunches to a nearby city almost every month by holding “canning” sessions, packing lunches in our cooking room, and going on runs on Saturday mornings to deliver these and other items to locations in the city. The canning sessions serve to collect monetary and food donations so we can collect enough supplies to meet our lunch quota. In each lunch there is one sandwich, a banana, a drink, and a snack. On Friday afternoons club members gather for about an hour to make sandwiches and pack the lunches, which are put into garbage bags the following morning for delivery.
On runs, about 10 or so club members drive into the city with parent chaperones and the yellow Bridges bus containing soup, hot chocolate (or lemonade), blankets, coats, boxers, fruit, socks, and whatever other seasonal items are needed, to deliver the lunches. Upon arrival, we are met with a long line of people waiting for us. We set up a table, soup and drink dispensers, and boxes of clothing. We open up our bags full of lunches, and once everything is set up we begin to hand out the items. If there are extra lunches at the end, people come around a second time, and if people have special requests, we make sure to give them as much as we can.
After making this first stop, there is sometimes a second stop scheduled at a women and children’s shelter nearby. We bring coats and clothing items there and play with the children in the courtyard, which is always a blast.
Why We Do It
I think that initially most people join clubs through school in order to have some things to write on college applications; that being said, it reveals something about the character of the club when there’s a room full of kids on a Friday afternoon ready and willing to touch a bunch of slimy turkey in order to help feed someone for a day or even a couple of days. We make a difference, and that touches people, motivating them to become a bigger part of the club.
Club co-president Allie Poles comments, “Freshman year, as I attempted to decide which clubs to participate in, a kid holding up a bold ‘LET’S FEED THE HOMELESS’ sign caught my eye. As I learned more about the organization, I became even more excited about the cause. Although I was nervous about participating in my first run during November of my freshman year, one run was all I needed to truly fall in love with the Bridges Club. Since that one freezing day in November, when I was given the opportunity to hand out hot chocolate and bagged lunches to the homeless of Newark, I have strived to assist this club to my utmost potential.”
I think most members can say they’ve had similar experiences–most of us have stuck with this club because the feeling that you get conversing and helping these people is unmatched. Their heartwarming sentiments as we give them meals is amazing, and it speaks to the difference such a small yet undeniably important act can make on someone’s day or week. It is absolutely humbling to notice the disparity between the people giving out lunches, and the people receiving them. You become aware that there are people that are so much less fortunate than you are, and that one wrong turn caused them to be without a home–a human mistake or something completely out of their hands.
Seeing kids lined up with their parents and playing with them in the shelters is heart-wrenching. You become keenly aware that young children are starting off their lives in poverty, and that their parents are doing all they can to support them. One of my friends gave the blue jacket she was wearing to a young girl simply because she said her favorite color was blue, making this girl’s day.
This club and cause breeds awareness and humility. I can honestly say I’ve never felt more part of a community than on Saturday mornings with the Bridges Club. Uniting with classmates, teachers, and even our Vice Principle to help better the lives of those who live so close to us, yet so differently from us, is an experience everyone should have.
Why You Should Do It, Too
Here is a link to 50 top-rated nonprofit organizations for homeless/housing causes, and I encourage you to start a club at your high school through one, or to join one that already exists. There are people nearly everywhere living without homes and the basic necessities that you and I take for granted, and to be able to help them find their ways back onto the right path even with the smallest deeds is wonderful.