Harvest Drive packs up fall donations


Harvest Drive volunteers pack bags for family pickup on Nov. 19 in the mini gym.

In schools across the county, the Harvest Drive continues to serve local families as the holidays begin. The organization has long upheld the mission to, “promote the concept of philanthropy to Broward County Public Schools students by providing the opportunity for them to give back directly to their community.” 

As thousands of students pitch in with non-perishable foods and toiletries, this year may seem different. With the majority of students learning at home last year, student involvement in the Harvest Drive was virtually impossible, leaving much of the work left to the organization alone and many students without volunteer hours. From the start of the pandemic in March 2020 until July of 2022, the Harvest Drive worked with Broward County Schools social workers and 28 other agencies to distribute 9000 Harvest Helping Hands non-perishable food bags. 

This year, with schools fully occupied, the organization successfully packed and served food bags for 350 families. 

School based coordinator Shavon Hendrix said they had a capacity of 50 non-supercommitte volunteers per hour compared to 100 or more in the past. This shifted the normal goal of 8-10 bags of groceries to  4-6 bags in addition to a reduced food list as a result of COVID restrictions. The student supercommitte has also been reduced from 50 members to 26.  Hendrix said also missing this year is the boutique, or auditorium filled with home, toys and clothing items.  Volunteers were no longer allowed to sign up on site and must do so in advance, which limits participation. 

Despite these changes the Harvest Drive was able to continue its plans to provide food to local families. 

“Harvest collection was really successful thanks to Western students and the supercommittee,” said Harvest Drive program coordinator Amy Freund. “We actually got more food than expected.”

As school clubs and teams began their first few meetings, many got involved in the Harvest Drive for volunteering. 

“Giving back to the community as a club maximized the good we can do,” junior debate team member Christian Carrillo said. “We were able to extend our impact past our own club.”

The excitement of the first in-school pep rally in two years jump-started donations. The infamous event was only available to classes who had donated a specific amount of items to the drive. 

Some students saw the Harvest Drive as the bare minimum to easily contribute without breaking the bank of a high schooler. 

“I donated; it’s the least I could do for people who are less fortunate,” sophomore Miramin Coley said. “Why not be a part of giving back something I already have?”

Despite this desire to donate, others had the pep rally as their end goal.

“The pep rally was motivating me to donate,” senior Roodarnley Piere Louis said. “I wanted to be able to participate in activities like this before I graduate.”

Regardless of the individual motives, the Harvest Drive is far more significant during the pandemic than in the past. Especially considering 87 of our own Wildcat families are struggling to put food on the table. So, the tradition will continue to be an essential part of schools and continue to assist local families and raise spirits.