Blue Jays Deliver Donated Coats to Homeless Shelter

Posted January 18, 2016 / Last updated March 31, 2016

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Blue Jay students – (from left) junior Jacob Acosta, senior Benji Creel, sophomore Luke Russo, pre-freshman Rader Jackson – faculty, and alumni drop off the donations at the Harry Tompson Center.

The coat drive sponsored by the Class of ’84 and the Sodality came to a close Friday, Jan. 15, as students, alumni, and faculty visited the Harry Tompson Center to drop off the donations. Turnout for the drive’s first run was a success, as the total amount of coats and assorted clothing items filled several cars. A total 21 bags of donations (each weighing between 15-20 pounds) were collected and delivered to help the homeless served by the Tompson Center.

The group met with Ms. Vicki Judice, the shelter’s executive director, who was thrilled to see how well the drive went and took everyone on a tour of the facility. Though there were not any guests present (the center is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.) she told the group that a total of 185 people had come to the shelter just that day.

The Tompson Center reported a tally of the donations from Jesuit’s drive:

  • 192 pairs of socks
  • 120 hats
  • 45 pairs of gloves
  • 75 scarves
  • 69 men’s coats
  • 22 women’s coats
  • 220 pairs of men’s underwear
  • 48 men’s undershirts
  • 32 backpacks
  • 3 pairs of men’s shoes
  • 4 hygiene supply items
  • 350 other assorted clothing items

Judice said, ” We brought guests in one-by-one so that they could select the items they wanted.  They appreciated having a choice and all said to say, ‘thank you to whoever made this possible!’ I can’t begin to express my appreciation for this effort. Many people will be a lot warmer these cold days due to what you have done for them.”

During a lunch meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 13, Mr. Mike Lang, a Jesuit Volunteer Corps member currently working at the near-by Veterans Shelter, spoke to students in detail about the various services the Tompson Center offers the city’s homeless population. Several students have spent their hundred hours of community service at the center in recent years. Senior John James shared with his classmates how rewarding and eye-opening his time serving the city’s homeless at the shelter had been. “I would recommend it to anyone looking for a service project,” he remarked.

Mr. Byron Berry, a member of the Class of ’84 who helped organize the drive, was there to speak to the students on Wednesday as well. “We hope that this drive can continue to grow at Jesuit.” Both Mr. Kevin Murphy and Mr. Charles Bourg of the Community Service Department were pleased to see another alumni class collaborate with current students in an effort to carry out the school’s call to be Men for Others.

The Sodality gave a special thanks to volunteers alumni from the Class of ’84 who helped collect the donations: Joe McMahon, Rick O’Neill, Gene Billingsley (and his son Christian), Steve Russo (and his pre-freshman son Luke), Cris Jackson (and his pre-freshman son Rader), Pat Huete, Barry Sevin, John Illg, Byron Berry (and his sophomore son Mitchell), and Lee Estingoy (who was in town for the weekend from Overland Park, Kansas). Other members of the ’84 committee include Tommy Barbier, Ken Boe, Mike Buisson, Nick Hazard, Bo Laborde, Joe McMahon, Ward Rice, and Evans Schmidt.

Berry said, “Hopefully this is the start of an annual drive, which we can spearhead, to help those less fortunate than ourselves and also serve as an example to the students at Jesuit that service and assistance to our fellow man is a lifelong responsibility of all.”

The coat drive is one of several campus-wide community service projects that has taken place this year. Organizers are considering this project as a possible annual service opportunity, joining the popular Thanksgiving Drive, Toys for Tots, and Mission Drive.

More Community Service

A group of students participated in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ “Day On / Not Off” Martin Luther King Day of Service, spending the holiday at St. Margaret’s at Mercy nursing home. Schools from around the city took part in the day of service, volunteering at various community service agencies throughout the area. The day began with a prayer service led by Archbishop Gregory Aymond at Jesuit; groups then dispersed and the Blue Jays walked from Jesuit to the nursing home on Bienville. More service opportunities will be posted later in the year.