“Make a Difference Mondays” Helps the Homeless


Photo provided by Ria Achuthan

Northwood junior Ria Achuthan and Woodbridge junior Steven Chang lead volunteers at Mike Ward Community Park.

Yejin Heo, Staff Writer

Irvine Virtual Academy (IVA) students were invited to help support the local homeless population by donating children’s needs and non-perishable goods at Mike Ward Community Park throughout May for Make a Difference Mondays. 

After IVA English teacher Stephanie Jackson learned that some of her own students were without fixed, regular and adequate residence, she gathered students to help take action for Orange County’s homeless population by organizing the Make a Difference Mondays donation drive. 

“We as a class started talking about vulnerable populations at the beginning of the school year,” Jackson said. “As we came to the end of the semester, we were finishing up a writing piece, and it felt as though we needed to take some action.”  

After many Monday meetings in preparation for the event, the non-contact donation drive received items like diapers, blankets and baby clothes as well as food including canned meats, rice and pasta. All donations were sent to local nonprofits Operation Warm Wishes and Families Forward.

Housing and food insecurity has always been an issue in Southern California, and amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for help and heart is greater than ever, especially from young, passionate people. 

“High school students are young adults who are just starting to become aware of their environment,”  Make a Difference Mondays organizer Northwood junior Ria Achuthan said. “When students serve the community, they have a greater sense of purpose knowing they are instrumental in improving the lives of people in need.”

The size and scale of the homelessness crisis may seem overwhelming to individuals who want to help, but every little bit helps. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance with housing or food insecurity, reach out to local help organizations like Families Forward, Operation Warm Wishes and South County Outreach.