Homeless Outreach club hosts donation drive

Leena Hussein and Anna Feng

Senior Ian Lawlor-Hills (left) and senior Julian Keyani (right) collect donations for the Homeless Outreach Program’s donation drive at lunch, Thursday on the Quad at Palo Alto High School. The Paly club works to spread awareness about the issue of homelessness throughout the Bay Area. Lawlor-Hills, a member of the club, said he believes this topic is not talked about enough on the Paly campus and the Bay Area community in general. “Issues of class and equality, I feel, are often ignored around the Bay Area,” Lawlor-Hills said. “A lot of affordable housing bills have been rejected and so we [the club] try to do anything we can do to help mitigate homelessness.” (Photo: Leena Hussein)

A Palo Alto High School club, focused on aiding homeless people will donate 10 bags of groceries from a lunchtime donation drive last week.

This drive is the Homeless Outreach Community Program’s second on-campus event and was organized by senior and club president Julian Keyani. 

The donations we have gotten have been extremely generous,” Keyani said. “It’s heartwarming to see that there are people who do donate. Even non-perishables that people just find lying around help so tremendously.”

Keyani said the club has received produce, canned goods, and hygienic products from students and staff which will be donated to the Downtown Streets Team Food Closet.

According to senior club member Ian Lawlor-Hills, the drive was significantly more successful than the club’s first donation drive, hosted earlier in the semester, but the club didn’t get as many donations as they hoped.

“We haven’t gotten as many donations as we’d hoped, and I feel we came into this with much higher expectations than is realistic,” Lawlor-Hills said. “I can’t really blame people for not showing up or caring much. It’s an extra thing to do.”

According to Keyani, he was inspired to create the club after he saw an increase in the number of homeless people near the area of his part-time job at Pizza My Heart in downtown Palo Alto.  

“Just being around homeless people a lot and interacting with them got me passionate about it [the program],” Keyani said.

Lawlor-Hills said the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the issue of homelessness and hopes that this club will help students become more aware of the problem. 

“It [the pandemic] legitimately ruined so many lives and the lack of social safety nets in place is very concerning,” Lawlor-Hills said. “That’s part of why we’ve been working on this club.”

Pazmino said he hopes to, at Paly, shine a spotlight onto bigger societal problems.

“I personally feel like in Paly, especially, there’s a hyperfocus on academics and that really draws attention away from some of the greater societal issues,” Pazmino said. “I’d like to kind of look beyond that and try to help bigger problems.” 

The Homeless Outreach Community Program plans to host another drive later in the semester that may focus more on collecting donations of health care products and incorporating more volunteer work for club members. 

“Keep your eyes peeled for that [the upcoming drive],” Lawlor-Hills said. “We might even expand our horizons to health care products such as tampons and deodorant, but outside of that, we just hope to continue what we’ve been doing, hopefully on a more broad scale.”