Class makes care packages for homeless persons

Psychology major Jordan Castro fulfilled his capstone service hour requirement in his own way rather than going through an organization. For his capstone class, Applied Psychology Practicum, he had a service requirement to meet for 15 hours.

“I did not just want it to be for the hours; I wanted it to be a little more personal,” Castro said.

That’s when Castro came up with the idea of making a care package for homeless people. Castro said he went and shared the idea with Julie Kuehnel, a professor in the psychology department, who he said was excited about the idea and approved it for his service requirement.

Kuehnel said that the message she is trying to teach got through to them and it reflected when Castro mentioned the idea and students jumped on board.

“Serving others is a mission of Cal Lutheran and in the capstone class. To get the students out of the classroom, we have them help others, which is a good thing,” Kuehnel said. “Research has shown that giving back and helping other people also helps you as much as it helps them.”

Kuehnel bases her class on positive psychology as well and how psychology can be used in everyday life to help better life and a more worthwhile life.

“We all quickly jumped on board and wanted to help,” junior psychology major Bryce Colvard said. “It turned out to be a great project and not just because we were doing it for the community, but because we were doing it as a team.”

Colvard said that the class came together, and the result was that they now feel closer to one another.

In a week and a half, the class was able to plan for the big event and spent their weekend putting the packages together and going to Ventura to deliver the packages. Twenty packages were made in total, with the idea that the homeless people would share the packages amongst themselves.

Each class member that helped bought around $20 worth of items that would go in the package. With 15 students in the class, the money and items quickly added up. They had at least 20 of the items gathered to put in the packages.

Castro’s mom also played a big role in the project. She helped provide the drawstring bags as well as 140 beef jerky sticks to put into the care packages. Other supplies included dental packs, reusable water bottles, socks, baby wipes and other items.

“We wanted to cover food, hygiene and lifestyle,” Colvard said. “We wanted to cover basic life necessities.”

Castro said he didn’t want to just give them the items, but spend time talking to them in hopes of boosting their morale as well.

“The biggest part for me was being able to sit down with them and talk to them,” Castro said. “These people get ignored so much and have no one to talk to; most people just walk right past them.”

The class split into three groups and delivered the items across downtown Ventura and to the Pier in Ventura.

Colvard and Castro both agreed that it was an eye-opening, humbling experience and that both groups of people benefitted from this experience. Castro said that the homeless people he met were strong.

“There are a lot of misconstrued ideas that they are lazy or angry people,” Castro said. “The people that I met were not like that at all and they were some of the nicest people that I have ever met.”

Castro said that homelessness can happen to anyone. Colvard said that as a society we have failed the homeless population.

“They showed us their identification and they looked just like anyone else,” Castro said. “When we asked what happened, they responded with things like ‘Life got to me.’”

If resources were increased and provided more often Colvard said he believes that we wouldn’t see so many homeless people in the streets.

“It’s hard to explain the experience unless you went through it,” Colvard said.

Castro said that he was amazed with how the class came together as a whole and how willing they were to help. They said they want to continue this project and make it something bigger. He said he wants to make it into a Cal Lutheran service project and get the school involved.

If you would like to help with future projects contact Jordan Castro via email at [email protected] or Bryce Colvard at [email protected]

Vianca Castaneda-Correa
Reporter