On Tuesday afternoon’s the YMCA After School Program at Roosevelt Elementary school have taken on a special project – making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the homeless. In an area like Redwood City where housing is increasingly beyond the reach of low-wage worker households, homelessness is unfortunately a fact of life.

Through a partnership with Street Life Ministries in Menlo Park, the students in the YMCA after school program are able to learn what community service means and how they can impact the world around them. When students get involved in giving back to a cause and helping their community in a way that matters to them, the lasting benefits can be far-reaching. As anyone who has ever volunteered knows, the satisfaction and pride that comes from helping others can be life changing. The simple act of making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches which are then delivered to local shelters has done just that at Roosevelt Elementary YMCA After School Program. In the beginning the 7th graders were assigned the task of making the sandwiches, which they did begrudgingly. Now all the classes clamor to have it be their week to ‘spread’ the joy. Alyce Rivas, YMCA After School Site Director said “the students are looking forward to participating in serving dinners at the shelter next, and being able to hand out their sandwiches for those in need as a nutritional snack for later.”

Alyce and class making sandwiches

Street Life Ministries is a community-based non-profit that serves the homeless and at-risk population of the Mid-Peninsula. They build environments and relationships where community volunteers can provide food, clothing, housing referral, addiction recovery, and other personal support. Homelessness and poverty affect over 6700 people in the Peninsula area of San Mateo County, with the communities of Redwood City, Menlo Park, and East Palo the most affected. But this issue truly impacts all of us who live here as we struggle to find solutions to these growing problems. Street Life seeks to address this need by mobilizing resources, community groups, and individual volunteers in our weekly gatherings.

At the Y, we know that when we work as one, we move people and communities forward. Making these peanut butter and jelly sandwiches helps kids advocate for a stronger community.