GLIFY Joins City Impact Holiday Outreach on Thanksgiving Day

By Eric Luo

One of our club’s favorite and most fulfilling annual traditions is volunteering at San Francisco City Impact’s Thanksgiving Day Outreach. This year, 53 Global Leadership Initiatives for Youth (GLIFY) members and parents spent their Thanksgiving bringing cheers and holiday meals to the homeless and low-income residents of the Tenderloin community, a downtown San Francisco neighborhood struggling with poverty and a high crime rate.

At 230 Jones St., over 600 volunteers from all over the Bay Area gathered in front of a stage. As City Impact speakers came up and talked about the history and current economic conditions of the Tenderloin District, we learned how we could make an impact on the lives of others by volunteering in various ways. In addition to direct service, GLIFY volunteers donated a total of $1,500 to help fund
this event and to support City Impact’s efforts. Through our annual talent shows and cookie bake sales, we have also been raising funds to sponsor two low-income City Impact students. However, the holiday outreach days like this Thanksgiving are still some of our most memorable moments of impact.

After the short assembly, volunteers were divided into a variety of task groups. GLIFY members were split into five different groups, each with a student leader. We helped prepare food in the kitchen, packed meals in Styrofoam containers, distributed groceries, helped at the kids' carnival and delivered meals to residents in low-income apartments.

I have volunteered at this event for five years. This time I was assigned to one of the delivery teams. Throughout the day, we went back and forth delivering warm Thanksgiving meals from the City Impact kitchen to several different low-income residencies in the Tenderloin. Each of us carried a large cardboard box filled with traditional Thanksgiving meals. Our group leader assigned us specific room numbers to deliver to.

I knocked on many doors that day, and some people answered while others did not. For those who did, I gave them one of the meals and wished them a happy Thanksgiving. As I did so, I caught a glimpse of the tiny rooms that they lived in, filled tightly with their living necessities. I was struck by their poor living conditions compared with my own. As some people delightedly chat with us, I
couldn’t help but wonder if they felt lonely and isolated. Or perhaps they were simply moved by our service. Seeing and talking to visitors, for many, may be better than the actual meal itself.

That day, my delivery team of eight handed over 400 meals to people in need. In the end, we were tired and hungry, but we all felt warmed knowing that we had made someone’s holiday a little happier.

In total, volunteers helped prepare, pack and deliver 2,650 meals, served 543 people meals at the block party, distributed clothes to 139 people, and entertained over 100 kids and family members with crafts, games and other fun activities.

Our GLIFY members were thankful for the opportunity to help others on that special day. When we took the BART back to our clean and safe homes, we all had a deeper appreciation for what we have, not just the ample living space, or delicious food that we can eat freely, but the loving family and friendship that we have access to. We all looked forward to doing it again.

Our Volunteers: Lily Bai, Elaine Cai, Sabrina Chang, Vivian Chang, Chloe Chen, Connor Chen, Jie Chen, Kevin Chen, Monica Chen, Yuling Gao, Yue (William) Geng, Rena Gong, Jeffery Han, Michael Han, Vivian Hir, Catherine Lan, Alfred Li, Binglun Li, Edwin Li, Hua Li, Kevin Li, Peter Li, Zhengbin Li, Ziyu Li, Linwei Liao, Roy Lin, Katie Liu, Yu Tong  (Kellie) Liu, Cindy Lu, Eric Luo, Ming Luo, Jessica Phongsa, Olivia Phongsa, Justin Qiu, David Qiu, Kevin Qiu, Kevin Shi, Jeffrey Tan, Jie Jing Tang, Justin Wang, Yongxing Wang, Yourong Wei, Evan Xu, Ryan Xu, Jingxiao Xu, Ying Xu, Helen Ye, Gavin Yin, Matthew Yuan, Michael Zhang, Winnie Zhang, Ling Zhong, Jing Zhu.