For Tumwater High School senior Jayson Haury the summer of 2016 proved to be inspiring. During that time he was able to attend the Mt. Baker Leadership Camp where students from across Washington State learned new ways to help build up their communities.
Knowing he was going to be helping head the Community Service Committee as a Leadership Class Chairperson during the 2016-17 school year, Jayson was particularly inspired by two things. The first being Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. While at camp they learned, “that before a person is able to feel accepted in their environment, their basic human needs must be satisfied.” According to Maslow the most fundamental needs include food, water, and shelter. The second being an idea he learned from a peer. “We talked to a few students about their ideas, and things they were running in their schools. One school was talking about having a food pantry, and I thought that would be a good project to take on.”
Each year Tumwater High School’s Community Service Committee has a set list of things they tackle. The list includes partnering with Bloodworks Northwest to accomplish three blood drives and participating in Pennies for Patients, which helps raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. And then they’ll do a food drive throughout the school and community to benefit Thurston County Food Bank. “But other than that, it’s really up to the committee to decide what we do,” says Jayson. “Last year we saw a lot of people who didn’t have coats during the winter, so during the football games we ran a coat drive. We try to identify what people need, and then we try to help out with that.”
At the beginning of the school year Jayson asked each Community Service Committee member to “come up with one new idea for service projects we could work on throughout the year,” in addition to the things they already do. Jayson presented the idea of creating a pantry, “for kids who may not have much to eat during the school day, or beyond, and need to take something home either for dinner that night or breakfast the next morning.” He also suggested that part of the pantry be dedicated to helping provide basic toiletry items for students who might find themselves in need of such essentials.
As his classmates were excited about the idea Jayson was encouraged. He began talking with Principal Broome, who agreed with taking on the endeavor. In mid-September they started planning a food drive. The Community Service Committee was able to partner with the National Guard to help collect food during both their Homecoming and Rivalry football games. They asked students to “bring the types of foods they would normally pack for their own lunches, like granola bars, fruit snacks, or pudding cups. It was actually super successful. We had three or four huge boxes of food.”
It wasn’t without its challenges, but good leaders know challenges are something to be overcome. “We were stuck, because we realized we didn’t have a place to put the food,” he says. “We had to deal with a lot of logistics about where to put a pantry, who would use it, and what that would look like.” Jayson complimented the Leadership Class’s advisor Jamie Weeks, calling him their advocate. “Mr. Weeks was really instrumental in helping us deal with the administrative tasks, and played a key role in convincing people this was something we should do.” Eventually they were able to work through all the hiccups. “It took a while, but we finally got everybody on the same page, and we’re all super excited about it.” They’re hoping to officially launch the pantry by the end of November 2016.
Jayson says their next step is getting the word out about the pantry – both to the students who will need to use it, as well as to those who are able to help keep it supplied. Fellow Community Service Committee member Hannah Fields shared, “One thing that always hits me hardest is people who can’t control the situation that they’re in, especially kids. If your parents can’t provide food for you, that’s not your fault. We waste so much food in the US. Giving up some of the stuff that we really don’t need, stuff that’s just going to be wasted, in order to spend the few extra dollars to go and buy cans or something like that is so helpful for people who really can’t control their situation.”
Reflecting on previous service endeavors Jayson shares, “Blood drives are super successful here. Every time we do a blood drive there is the same core group of donors that come seek us out saying, ‘Hey I really want to donate again.’ People think it’s fun, and feel rewarded after they donated blood, or a coat, or do something that can’t be given back.”
“It’s a matter of people believing in it. That’s why we tapped into the supportiveness of our community,” says Jayson. He is hoping that through the ongoing donations of fellow students, parents, and community partners that the pantry would be a sustainable resource which could benefit students for years to come.
If you would like to partner with Tumwater High School’s Community Service Committee by donating food or toiletry items, you can contact Mr. Jamie Weeks at Tumwater High School.