Harry Tompson Clothing Drive Launched by Ward Rice ’84 and Sodality
At Friday morning’s assembly in Traditions Courtyard, freshman Sodalist Josh Schmidt took to the podium to introduce alumnus speaker Ward Rice ’84. For the third straight year, Jesuit’s 9th grade Sodality and the Class of 1984 are teaming up to collect winter clothing items for the men and women served by the Harry Tompson Center (HTC), the homeless shelter in downtown New Orleans.
Rather than harping on last year’s success, Rice inspired Blue Jays with a story about a cold-weather experience he had with his son, sophomore Patrick Rice, on New Year’s Day. On their way to a downtown restaurant, they agreed to walk under the covered parking of the Superdome because it was freezing cold.
He recalled, “On our way, we sat down, and a homeless person sat right next to us. After a few minutes, he got up and walked back outside into the freezing cold weather. Then, we got up and started running because it was freezing. I remember thinking to myself, ‘that homeless person is going to spend the entire night outside.’ His best case scenario was to get to the low part of a bridge to break the wind, or maybe he’d sleep under a bush next to a building, which would break the wind.”
After gaining their attention, Rice asked students to consider donating shirts, hats, pants, jackets, hoodies, sweaters, and sweatpants. “Gloves and socks go a long way,” he added, speaking from experience. “Homeless people don’t care if their clothes match; they just care if they keep them warm.”
Rice regularly volunteers at the HTC, which provides day shelter for the chronically homeless. HTC’s ministry also helps people find employment, housing, counseling, and treatment for various illnesses. Aiming to reintegrate as many homeless as possible back into mainstream society, the HTC also meets their most basic needs by providing clothing and personal hygiene items. Fr. Harry Tompson, S.J. was the principal at Jesuit from 1974-1979, president from 1979-1987, and then pastor at Immaculate Conception downtown where he founded the nonprofit homeless shelter.
On Monday, Jan. 15, Jesuit begins its 3rd annual Winter Clothing Drive, a subset of the Harry Tompson Clothing Drive. Rice’s class, the Class of 1984, is partnering with students, families, faculty, and staff. Collection bins will be located around the school building.
The Class of 1984 thanks the Jesuit High community in advance for any and all donations.