Isaiah Freedman staff writer
It’s around noon on a hot Sunday, Mar. 12, at Temple Isaiah’s annual Purim festival, and senior Jack Harris does not have to be there. The festival is flush with taco trucks, grilled cheese trucks, pop-a-shots, whack-a-mole, moon bounces and slides. However, one stand separates itself from all the others, and that is Harris’ Bundles of Hope, a nonprofit organization aimed at helping homeless people.
Before Harris, who founded Bundles of Hope during his junior year, had even conceived the idea, he was at first simply trying to find a way to make a positive difference in his community.
“I asked myself, ‘What’s a big problem that we have as a community?’ People from here go to other countries and address problems they have there, but there are lots of serious problems that are happening right in our backyard,” Harris said.
Upon researching a way to contribute, Harris noticed that a whopping 47,000 homeless people are scattered throughout Los Angeles. Upon finding who he wanted to aid, he contacted organizations to try to get a feel for what could most help these unfortunate people. After consulting with those organizations and pondering the question himself, he concluded that homeless people needed three essential materials.
“These people need a clean shirt, clean pair of socks and a clean toothbrush. I partnered with clothing companies and got quality shirts and socks donated. The toothbrushes we had to buy,” Harris said.
At just the Temple Isaiah festival alone, Bundles of Hope folded over 4,700 bundles, which is set to impact over 10 percent of the entire Los Angeles homeless population.
Bundles of Hope’s goal at the Purim festival was to have parents and children stop by and put together a bundle or two as a way to help the community.
Jodie Redmond, a fellow volunteer and counsellor to Harris, decided to help the minute Harris told her about his intentions to positively impact the homeless community.
“When Jack came up with it, he started approaching clothing companies, as well as filing all of the necessary paperwork, which is a huge thing for a high schooler to do. When I heard all of this, of course I wanted to volunteer, because it’s such a wonderful thing he’s doing,” Redmond said under the Bundles of Hope tent at the carnival.
A constant stream of parents, children and teens stopped by throughout the day to fold a couple of bundles, learning who they were helping as they did so.
Another volunteer, Jennifer Losch, loved what Harris and Bundles of Hope are accomplishing and decided to help out as well.
“I think Bundles of Hope is a really great organization to help those in need and in transition to help them get back on their feet and just give them a little something to help with the process,” Losch said. “Just a fantastic organization.”
At the end of the carnival, Harris and his volunteers packed up over 4,700 bundles and will donate them to the OPCC (Ocean Park Community Center) Wednesday, Mar. 15. Once delivered, community outreach workers will make sure the bundles fall into the right hands.
Harris has a couple more events similar to this one planned in order to deliver more bundles. He has even partnered with some LA county schools to spread the word. He has also vowed to pass down Bundles of Hope to his younger brothers as he grows more busy with school.
“Our message to homeless people is this: ‘We are right here with you, you’re worth this and deserve what everybody else has.’ It’s very simple, but it’s effective and wonderful. Hopefully the people who receive them know there are people out there looking out for them,” Redmond said.