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Project Sammich

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Posted: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 3:27 pm

Juniors plan to give away 5,000 “Sammiches” to San Diego homeless by the end of senior year.

Project Sammich is a student-run organization that was founded in May 2014 by Coronado High School students DaniRose Hill and Molly Ryan. After being inspired to give back to the community by Ryan’s mother, the CHS juniors set the goal of handing out 5,000 peanut butter and jelly “sammiches” to the hungry and homeless by the end of their senior year. So far, Project Sammich has distributed approximately 1,760 sandwiches and plans to donate 3,240 more in the coming years.

Project Sammich is growing quickly. Ryan and Hill work with 40 high school volunteers and manage a social media following of several hundred. Hill is eager to get more high school students involved in this rewarding volunteer work. “Our project is different than other volunteer opportunities because you can see the difference that you’re making firsthand,” she said.

Each ‘mission’ donates about 200 sandwiches and can cost the volunteers up to 60 dollars in peanut butter, bread and gas. The majority of Project Sammich’s funds come from donations from family members, and as word spreads about the project, community leaders.

Ultimately, Ryan and Hill want to expand Project Sammich beyond San Diego. The girls were recently invited to collaborate with Operation Stand Down, an outreach program that aims to help homeless veterans. The founders said the recognition by a prestigious organization motivated them to get more people involved with Project Sammich. “When you get a lot of people together it’s easy to do a good deed,” said Hannah Storum, an excited CHS junior and Project Sammich volunteer.

Before every mission, volunteers have to make the sandwiches. Volunteers meet at each other’s houses, Spreckles Park or in Ms. Hill’s art classroom at CHS. Each sandwich is individually placed into a brown paper bag covered with handwritten encouraging messages. Family members of the volunteers act as chauffeurs, driving the eager kids to locations where the homeless tend to be. The group prefers to begin their missions early in the afternoon, a more peaceful time of the day. The first stop is under the Coronado bridge, where the volunteers are greeted with the occasional recognition and a “God bless you.” Ryan recalls a particularly moving response from a homeless man after she handed him sandwich: “He looked me straight in the eye and said I love you,’” she said.

Next, the volunteers venture into downtown San Diego. Anytime anyone living on the streets is spotted, the car is momentarily stopped and two volunteers hop out and make sure everyone in sight is offered a sandwich. “We could spend an hour on two blocks and hand out at least 100 sandwiches,” said CHS junior Cady Hart. Each mission is more eye opening than the last. “There are so many hungry people, we don’t limit our sandwiches only to the homeless,” Ryan adds.

As the seventh mission drew to a close, the group of volunteers spoke excitedly about the interesting people they had met and the heartfelt, appreciative responses they had received. “It’s hard to say what our biggest motivation is,” said Hill. “We realize that we are not going to be able to end world hunger. That is not an attainable goal. We do realize, however, that we will always be able to provide a moment of comfort and happiness in people’s lives.”

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