Middle school students open up about the Second Harvest support program, in which a small group of students go to work with Second Harvest Japan to help them feed needy people in Tokyo. Students work with the group once a month and can sign up for any or all of the three work sessions: set-up, distribution and clean-up.
Shiori Harima (grade 7) on the February trip
This month was the second time I went to the Ueno park to support the Second Harvest organization, helping serve lunch to the needy. Through carrying heavy containers back and forth and standing in the cold for over an hour, I didn’t think this was an easy task. However, I thought it was a wonderful opportunity because it was fun and interesting to work with the adults, and it also let me see a different perspective and appreciate my everyday life a little more. I hope that the warmth we created in the cold will spread beyond the organization and into many others’ hearts. I am looking forward to the next Second Harvest!
Sabrina Matsui (grade 8) on the January Trip
I’ve occasionally donated money to charities and given away clothes, but never have I felt satisfied with what I’ve done. Second Harvest made me feel like I was important and really did help, in a physical way. The reactions the face of those we helped made me smile, it made me happy inside. Second Harvest really gives you a chance to help. Yes, donating money and giving away things does help but not in the same way. This activity really did inspire me to do more in real life, instead of just helping out through the internet.
Shiori Harima (grade 7) on the November Trip
Throughout the experience, I was challenged a lot. For example, when I was assigned to chop fruits, which honestly I had never done, I cut my finger and when we arrived at the place to pass out lunches, I felt my shoulder nearly falling off as I carried the heavy food. But, as I knew this was a very good experience, I kept trying harder. Before this opportunity, there would occasionally be a school program for fundraising or donating money to organizations, however, I’d never really directly supported anything.
I think this was a valuable learning experience for me, because I was kind of able to see from a different perspective about our basic expectations and to support such a good cause just made me feel better. But, overall, what I found especially interesting was that this organization runs by mostly donations from food-selling companies that were unable to sell everything. So they donate foods that has not yet expired but will not sell out. Across Tokyo, they have five warehouses to keep all the food donations! If Second Harvest was not in this position or if this process did not exist, all these food companies would end up disposing everything. I was amazed by this brilliant idea to avoid unnecessary waste.
In the future, I would like to continue helping this organization and, furthermore, I want to try starting something like this, because it truly is making the world a better place!
Maia Peacock (grade 8) on the November Trip
This year, my friend and I signed up for Second Harvest; it was nothing at all like what I had imagined. It was so much better! We got there slightly late but everyone was really welcoming and friendly to us when we arrived. Then, we were faced with the task of packing 300 food boxes. So we got straight to it and took our assigned place around the table. Some of us packed boxes with rice and then passed it along for the next person to pack it with eggs, then beans and so on. The whole process was super exciting and we soon got into a good rhythm, which allowed us to pack 300 boxes in under 45 minutes. Although it got a little tiring after a while, the thought that just a little bit of more effort from us could help make a person’s day and fill their stomach was enough to keep us going.
Packing and cooking of the food was exciting but the second session in the park was what really made my day. We got to personally serve around 300 homeless people food and help out with lots of stations ranging from the yogurt to giving out warm soup. Everyone there was really nice and appreciative of the work that we did for them and of the food.
Although it helps a lot to donate money, food or other helpful things to organizations and then go back to your daily lives, being there on the front lines and actually making it happen is one of the greatest feelings. It certainly brightened up my whole weekend to know that I had helped someone who was less fortunate than me get a full stomach and a newfound smile on their faces. It also gave me a new hope in humanity and I am super ecstatic to do again as many times as I can. So I hope you do too! Get out there with Second Harvest and make it happen.
Our elementary students also support Second Harvest. Read more in our post “A Look at Elementary School Service“