Will Newton ’22 and Thayer Newton ’24, give back to their community in an effort to fight food insecurity.

Twenty-four years ago, our church, St. Michael and All Angels, “adopted” a 62-block area in the Dallas Independent School District called Jubilee Park. At the time, it had one of the highest crime rates and one of the worst education systems in the city. Since then St Michael and its Parishioners have made many efforts to help the neighborhood in what ways it can, whether it is through educational programs, or just letting the children of the neighborhood have a good time. However, despite our best efforts, there are events that no one can plan, COVID-19 being one of them.

Because of COVID, the employment rate in Jubilee plummeted, meaning that food was even harder to get thanks to an even more limited budget for all the families. In response, St Michael began a food drive, because of lock down, we could not meet in large groups, so 2-4 people would stand outside the church waiting, and people would sign up to drop off food. As I was learning to drive, my mother decided it would be a good idea to have me take her and the food to the drives weekly to get some practice in, and help out a community in need. As I heard more and more about the situation in Jubilee I felt that we needed to do something more, however small, we just needed to do something else to help.

My sister and I thought of things we could do, and the idea of bringing more food directly to the community came to us. After being in contact with the Jubilee community center, my sister and I purchased 100 green bags with the Deerfield prayer, “For food, for friendship, and for the blessings of the day, we give thanks.” We filled the bags, drove over to Jubilee Park and dropped them off at the community center. Flash-forward several months and we are about to go on winter break when I see an email from the CSGC about micro-grants. After doing some research and asking Ms. Brown some questions about the program my sister and I requested a micro-grant to double our funds for the project. When we arrived back home, we quarantined, and prepared. We contacted Jubilee Park, we ordered 100 identical bags and the food to fill them with. Later that week, when everything had arrived, we filled the bags and dropped them off at the Community Center.

My sister and I worked hard on this project. We discussed the designs of the bags, (although less important than the food, we wanted to make them usable for the families in the future), we packed the bags and delivered heavy cardboard boxes full of food to the Community Center. We put effort, time, and thought into this project in an attempt to help out a community less fortunate than ours.

Through this process we learned that since we were born with so much, if we can give back even a tiny percentage of what we have, we should. During COVID the unemployment rate in the Jubilee Neighborhood rose from 16% to 75%. With children out of school, and parents out of jobs, the children in Jubilee Park didn’t have food, or money to buy it with. The only time they got snacks was when their parents could scrounge up enough money to go to the store or if the staff at Jubilee Park got a donation.

David Workman, Class of 1950, overlapped with our grandfather, Joseph E. Helweg Jr., Class of 1948, at Deerfield Academy. We were excited when we learned of that small connection, and we are grateful to the Workman family for allowing us to continue the “quiet philanthropy” that David Workman embodied. By putting together the We Give Thanks backpacks and passing them out to the neediest kids in the Jubilee Park neighborhood, the Workman family enabled us to continue the Deerfield tradition of members of the community taking responsibility and caring for one another. Thank you for enabling us to do some good in our community over the holidays.

 

 

 

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