“It Was a Life Changing Experience”

Oxnard High School students volunteer at the Rescue Mission to help feed the homeless

Zaira Miranda
Families patiently waiting for their meals to be prepared.

Zaira Miranda, Reporter

“While the people were outside waiting in line, there was so much going on inside…some people were decorating paper bags with ‘God Loves You’ and filling them in with candy for the little ones, and the people at the kitchen were cutting the pies and keeping everything warm and ready,” said Oxnard High School junior volunteer, Dominique Delgadillo.

On Nov 27, 2014, a group of varying Oxnard High School students, which included Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MECHA) Club and Green Technology (Gtech) Academy members, aided the Ventura County Rescue Mission in serving meals to the homeless. According to their website, the Rescue Mission has held a Thanksgiving Dinner for the homeless every year, for the past seven years.

The event starting at noon attracted hundreds of family members and individuals to gather around the Rescue Mission located in Oxnard. Starting at 9:00 A.M., those being served, received a meal prepared from community outreach volunteers.

As people were waiting in line, the Rescue Mission accommodated activities for children by setting up face painting booths and hosting games for them to play. OHS students decided to start that morning with being a part of every single one of those children’s lives by playing games with them and painting their faces. Senior Gabriela Avila said, “It’s pretty nice I mean, you see their faces all happy, all cheered up, all excited because they are going to have something painted on their face, it’s…nice to see their smile on their face.”

“Spending the day with the kids and seeing them smile while they played made me glad to be there,” said senior Andrea Partida.

By noon, the gates of the Rescue Mission had opened and started to seat everybody. While some OHS student volunteers were still painting faces and interacting with the kids, others prepared their plates to be served. After lining up to be served, they received service by the local police officers, firefighters, and veterans.

The overall feeling of the Rescue Mission was radiating throughout the community with happiness. “I felt excited and warm-hearted seeing all the people thanking me and telling me they loved the meal, one guy told me ‘I have not eaten a thanksgiving meal in years, this is my first meal that I’ve had in a week,’”  said junior Haley Spicer.

Partida said she felt, “spending the day there not only made me appreciate things more, but also [made me] thankful [for having] a roof over my head, clothes on my back, and not worrying about when my next meal is.”

“I love seeing the smiles on the people’s faces after I gave them clean water and fresh warm food that they were not able to provide for themselves,” said junior Hayley Spicer. The people who were volunteering that day had not only a chance to change someone’s life, but also an opportunity to experience something that could change their own.

“This event definitely made me appreciate what I have. Seeing so many individuals in need and dependent on community service programs made me feel very fortunate for what I have,” said junior Lydia Chiorino.

“There’re many people out on the streets, and I am just so grateful for the Rescue Mission for providing the hundreds of families that came with not only food during the holidays but providing them with a long lasting memory that will bring joy to their hearts,” said Delgadillo.

After his volunteer experience Delgadillo said, “The Rescue Mission does so much for this community, [and] the high schools are just not always aware…but I am really glad I was informed about this community service opportunity, it was a life changing experience.”