A reality check. An inception. A shock. That is what Skid Row is. An entrenched 54 blocks of homeless counting up to as many as 11,000 in population just a walk down from some of Los Angeles’ most prestigious areas. It is hard to imagine that so many struggles and so many hardships are faced daily by thousands when there are so many privileged others who ignore what our city has come to, and take their luxuries for granted. Before this event I had
never been to Skid Row, nor was I aware of the true severity of it. I signed up for this event because I wanted to make a difference, little did I know how much it would mean to me and how different I would feel at the end of the day.
The morning of the 25th of June, twenty five ready and willing youths devoted their morning to making a difference. It was amazing to see how many kids were willing to give up sleeping in during summer and willing to give up their Saturday for as long as it may take to make an impact on our community. It was inspiring to see so many smiling faces all there for the same reason, fighting for the same cause. Our supervisor, Alma, assigned different members of Lets.Give different donations to bring. Together we brought gallons of orange juice, an endless number of aluminum foil, loaves of bread, slices of cheese, and cartons of eggs. That morning for 2 hours straight, all of Lets.Give worked to put together over 200 egg and cheese sandwiches to serve for breakfast. After all was said and done, we held a quick ice breaker where every volunteer told about themselves and why they decided to come that day. Besides the usual “my friends told me to wake up early”, there were many reasons relating to their want to make a difference and their want to help out. Each and every volunteer had a genuine reason to be there, making the event even more meaningful. After our short discussion pictures were taken, cars were packed and we were on our way.
The first time driving down those first couple of blocks was heart wrenching, as if you have entered a new city or town. It is so hard to imagine how many people everyday ignore these tent filled streets. I knew right away that we had a positive impact after I had parked my car and begun to walk towards Gladys Park, our first destination of distribution. My friend and I had dropped off the supplies already and were carrying nothing but our phones when a friendly man approached us and thanked us for the food, though we had never distributed any yet ourselves. He told us he knew we were apart of the organization and that he was very thankful for what we were doing. I believe it was my Lets.Give shirt that gave it away, but at that moment I knew I was apart of something much bigger than myself. I was apart of a movement and that itself was uplifting. Once at the park we were greeted by more volunteers and the non-profit that was hosting the whole event, Alleviate Skid Row. We were welcomed with open arms and began helping out by sorting clothes and books that were soon to be donated. Already there were so many grateful people lining up to treat themselves to a new wardrobe or a new reading collection.
There is no greater feeling than knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life, even if what you are doing may seem so small. After the clothing had run out, our main focus was on food. Alleviate Skid Row had also made sandwiches to distribute, leading our number of people fed to be over 500! Orange juice was distributed as well as cold waters. People of all different ages and ethnicities came, and all were served. At that moment, Skid Row felt like a community, large numbers of people coming together to enjoy breakfast and a beautiful day in the park. Most stayed around even after being served, to talk with others, or to just relax. How amazing can this be if we made this trip more often? After the lines died down, and there were few left to serve, we packed up our things and decided to drive down some blocks to serve out of our cars. After driving a short 5 minutes, we had all found a way to park along the street, open our trunks, and serve more people. In less than 15 minutes we had ran out of sandwiches and juice leaving our trunks barren. I had only wished we had more to distribute, as there were far more people that needed to be served, however Rome was not built in a day, and Skid Row can not be alleviated in one either. This day was a day unlike any other because it was my first time witnessing the raw truth behind Skid Row.
It amazes me to think that although so well known, is a place so maltreated. Who gave the 15 blocks of poverty its crude name that we all know so well today? It seems as though this homeless population is accepted for what it is, for what it has become. However I know that Lets.Give will not stand by and ignore it. Lets.Give is here to stay, to make a change and even if it is the smallest of changes, it will still make an impact. I am so blessed in my life and to see so many others survive everyday without even half of the things that I am lucky enough to have, inspired me to go out and make a change. That is why I am in Lets.Give, to inspire, to make a difference, to make an impact. Some say our generation is lost in greed and materialism, but the group of kids in Lets.Give prove our generation otherwise. We are a generation of millennial soldiers, devoted to make a change, devoted to better the lives of others and to leave a world behind us that we can be proud of. That is what Lets.Give is made of and that is Lets.Give itself, an organization to be proud of.