Toyota Family Learning: #HashtagLunchbag

Fifteen Toyota Family Learning families from the Toberman Neighborhood Center recruited 100 volunteers to help assemble and then distribute lunches to the Los Angeles homeless population on Saturday, May 16.

IMG_6704“It takes an army to make a change and we hope this project can be the start of an annual event that will bring our community together to make that one change, one lunch bag at a time,” said Sandra Rascon, Toberman program coordinator.

During a “Walk About” activity in the fall, Toberman families investigated just how many homeless individuals needed assistance in their community. A recently released report found that homelessness has increased 39 percent in IMG_6708the South Bay area and 12 percent in LA County in the last two years. After learning this, they felt compelled to not only provide lunches in the Harbor area, but also to venture into other areas of Los Angeles with a high population of homeless people.

Toyota Family Learning families partnered with #HashtagLunchbag for the project and began to plan and prepare how to collect food and resources to hand out in high-need areas of Los Angeles County. The families also researched which services were already being utilized and which oft-overlooked available assistance could be leveraged.

“They gained a better understanding that one lunch bag at a time can make a change to end hunger. We are empowering our families to learn and make that change together,” said Rascon.

Toyota Family Learning participants did not stop at learning that they could reach out to help those in need. They collaborated as a community to create fliers to recruit volunteers, solicit donations, and decide how to best assemble and allocate the resources they had gathered. Participating parents and children also wrote personalized notes of encouragement and hope to be included in the lunches.

“I like to help those who need it. I don’t like to see anyone go hungry and I will help in any way I can,” said Monica Heredia, a member of Toberman’s Toyota Family Learning.

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Highlights from #HashtagLunchbag

“They built up their confidence and learned they can do this Family Service Learning project on their own and feel comfortable that they have the sufficient knowledge and support from Toberman and others in their community in order to sustain this project,“ Rascon added.

This Family Service Learning project was part of the 24-week Toyota Family Learning program in San Pedro that engages first-generation American, low-income, and other families facing disadvantages in learning together and engaging in service projects in the classroom, at home, and in the community.

Toyota Family Learning, a 6-year nationwide initiative led by NCFL, was created to address educational needs and provide opportunities for low-income and ethnically diverse families to roll up their sleeves and build stronger communities. NCFL knows that when children and families solve community issues together, they are simultaneously learning and applying 21st-century college and career readiness skills.