This year, on the campus of Loyola Marymount University, our non-profit, PBJ, has grown into the most exciting and rewarding service opportunity available to students. With so much going on in the lives of students, PBJ offers a quick and simple way to give back to the Los Angeles community. All it takes is thirty minutes to two hours to brighten the day of hundreds of homeless people in LA’s skid row.
Having participated almost five times now, I can tell you that not only does PBJ satisfy the urge I’ve had to give back, but it’s also a fun and introspective experience. That mixture, I believe, is why the bi-weekly events are becoming more and more popular on campus. At times service can seem like a drag, or lack that feeling of actually doing good. But with PBJ you have the option of seeing the work you’ve done in action. After making 300-500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with friends, you can go down to skid row and personally help hand them out. You meet people who have very little, but still an exuberance and spirit that is heartwarming. Seeing that smile after you hand them a sandwich is as rewarding as anything you’ll ever feel. Not because it was extremely difficult, but because you know you’re making a person’s day at least a little bit better. At times in our world we forget that people like this exist, we get caught up in our lives and out problems and don’t acknowledge that there are people far worse off then us. PBJ is trying to shed a light on that by not just making a difference, but showing that difference. Using social media and word of mouth, the homeless issue in LA is starting to get the attention it deserves, something that is very hard in a place associated with glitz and glamour.
For now PBJ’s focus continues to be, doing as much as we can with what we have to offer; and what we have is a motivated student body who wants to make a change in this world. But PBJ will grow, as it has already shown since its inception. There is a want for this kind of service in a world that is all about seeing change, not waiting for it. PBJ shines a light on a problem that affects over three and a half million people in the United States. Whether we actually make a lasting change to this problem is yet to be seen, but with each peanut butter and jelly sandwich and each new smile, we know that we are progressing towards a better future.
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