On Dec. 18 Loyola partnered with Homeboy Industries for its first drive-thru version of the annual Homeboy Industries Christmas Party. Four Loyola student volunteers assisted at the event by creating care packages, handing out food and gifting toys to children. In previous years, Homeboy Industries has hosted a Christmas Party for underprivileged families, complete with a carnival and gift-giving campaign. This year’s event is a contactless adaptation of that beloved festivity.
Loyola alum Jim Oswald ‘78, who spearheaded the holiday party event, stated, “To see the Community rally behind the Homeboy trainees and their children to ensure that this year’s event was as successful as the previous 8 years- the amount of generosity and support from cash, food and gift donations and volunteer time was just awe-inspiring and staggering. We gave away hundreds of bags full of food, vegetables, meals, household items, new clothes, hot BBQ meals, books, and gift cards, 4-5 times the volume of what we typically are able to do.”
Loyola High School’s affiliation with Homeboy Industries stemmed from its connection with Fr. Greg Boyle, SJ ‘72. As Boyle witnessed the devastating impact of gang violence in the 1980s, he committed himself to starting Homeboy Industries, which was formed in 1988. Homeboy Industries has hosted community winter events for the past eight years, fostering love, kindness and charitable giving in Los Angeles.
Junior Brody Hannon, who helped take pictures of the entire event, said, “This was my fourth year photographing the event and it was super different. We usually have carnival games for the kids and a bunch of presents from which they can choose. This year because of Covid we had to adapt to a drive-thru version. I think it was a huge success, especially given the circumstances, The kids were super excited to receive the toys and the parents were super grateful.”
Junior Alvaro Valerio worked on assembling care packages. He said, “It was an amazing experience that was very humbling and heartwarming. I truly enjoyed giving back to those in need.”
The number of on-site volunteers was limited, but Homeboy Industries leveraged the existing volunteers and expanded the volunteer pool to help gather food, gifts, books and household items. This event generated more money and funding than in previous years, as many members of the community offered bolstered support.
Oswald said, “Many folks recognized that they could not physically come to the site, so they instead helped us raise more money and collect more gift cards for the party than we ever have. Necessity is the mother of invention and we certainly created new ideas and ways to make this event as special as previous holiday parties.”
Several stations were created in the backlot, ranging from a household items station to a gift donation station. The system operated as a roundabout drive-thru, and the volunteers placed a bag of items into the trunk of each car to minimize contact and ensure safety for all participants.
Junior Charles Legaspi, who assisted in the distribution of care packages, stated, “This event was truly a transformative and memorable experience. As a Loyola Cub, I was not only able to show my school’s support by volunteering, but I was also able to work with my peers to create a supportive environment that promotes honest connection, healing, and sharing.”
Loyola High School directly provided tables, chairs, and sound equipment for the event. College Counselor Daryl Crowley gathered hundreds of toiletry kits, the LHS Mothers Guild and LHS Fathers Club helped fundraise for Target gift items and Patrick Girardi and Jessie Rodriguez provided connections to other donors and sponsors.
Oswald remarked, “It was a day where the concept of ‘being men and women for and with others’ became very real and tangible. All of the contributors to this event helped to broaden the circle of compassion to the edges, to include more people on the fringes, so the margins were actually blurred, and we were all together! There was no ‘us and them,’ only ‘us.’ This was not a day about Charity — it was a day of brothers and sisters coming together, connecting with one another to celebrate our common humanity, our oneness.”