Past and Present Jays Partner for 2nd Annual Winter Clothing Drive

Posted December 26, 2016 / Last updated December 26, 2016

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Sodality students and members of the Class of 1984 deliver items to the Harry Tompson Center at the culmination of last year's drive.

Sodality students and members of the Class of 1984 deliver items to the Harry Tompson Center at the culmination of last year’s drive.

One of the benchmarks by which Jesuit High School measures its success is the active involvement of its alumni. Classes — ranging from 5 to 50 years (and beyond) since graduation — are earnestly building networks to socialize, promote spiritual growth, and serve. Whether cheering on the Blue and White during the Great American Rivalry Series game, strengthening faith by participating in evenings of reflection, or welcoming new Blue Jays to campus with a jambalaya lunch, Jesuit alumni are forming teams to better connect classmates with their alma mater and current students.

The Class of 1984 is one such group embracing this call for engagement.

“When our committee first met in the spring of 2015, we wanted to plan class activities that were social and spiritual,” said Pat Huete, a member of the committee. “But we also wanted to think of a way that we could serve the community, to find a specific need our class could address.”

Classmate Ward Rice offered a solution. Rice regularly volunteers at the Harry Tompson Center (HTC), a nonprofit founded by Fr. Harry Tompson, S.J. which provides day shelter for the chronically homeless. He told the group about HTC’s ministry, including helping 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.

Last year, the Class of 1984 started a coat drive to help clothe those the HTC serves during the winter months. Hoping to encourage present Blue Jay involvement, the group pitched their idea to Jesuit’s Sodality, which enthusiastically agreed to participate in gathering warm outerwear. Over a two-week period, donations were placed in boxes during homeroom. On the final Friday of the drive, the alumni returned to campus to help Sodality students collect, bag, and transport the items to the Harry Tompson Center.

The response was outstanding.

“We expected it would be a modest effort, but the inaugural drive exceeded all expectations,” said Huete. “We collected hundreds of clothing and personal items — much more than just coats — for the Center.”

With the drive’s success, alumni and the Sodality are again gearing up to continue the effort, now officially known as the Annual Winter Clothing Drive. Though the 2017 drive kicks off on Jan. 9 and runs through Jan. 20the Class of 1984 encourages the Jesuit community to gather items over the holidays.

“If you get a new coat for Christmas or find yourself cleaning out your closet during vacation, we’d love to have your cold-weather donations next month,” said Huete.

In addition to gently-used winter coats and gloves, warm hats, shoes, belts, backpacks, and new socks and underwear, check out other items on the Harry Tompson Center’s wish list here.