Students lend some Helping Hands for the houseless


Infographic by Elisa Zody - Digital and Multimedia Editor

Donations given Oct. 24-28 will be put together in care packages and sent to Harbor House.

Ashley Cope, Reporter

California Lutheran University’s Office of Civic Engagement and Leadership is bringing students together to help donate to those in need this holiday season with the Helping Hands Donation Drive. 

From Oct. 24-28, donations were taken in the Student Union in preparation for the program, which will take place Nov. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Flagpoles on the Spine. Students will have the opportunity to put together care packages to be donated to the Harbor House to help people experiencing houselessness. 

“I really wanted to bring more awareness about houselessness and college student insecurity and there is just so much that people don’t really realize about what it means to be a student who is without a home,” Liban Yakob, senior and Civic Engagement and Leadership intern said. 

As the event lead, Yakob has been planning the Helping Hands event for over two months. They teamed up with the Community Cupboard and Campus Ministry for this donation drive. 

“Liban Yakob brought the idea of having the Helping Hands event where we will be creating care packages for the students that we are going to donate to Harbor House for folks who are houseless so this week we are doing a drive for winter items so students can bring in lightly used beanies, jackets, shirts, that we can include in the care packages,” Jeanie Maidona, coordinator of Civic Engagement and Leadership and Student Life, said. 

Harbor House is a local nonprofit organization in Thousand Oaks that serves community members who struggle with homelessness and houselessness. Harbor House was founded in 2019 by Denise Cortes with the goal of serving the Conejo Valley, which includes Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village and Newbury Park.

“If we could just take this part of the county that we could take the resources and the people here in this community and help those that need the help. We could get a handle on homelessness and get to help those in need,” Sheri Groenveld, operations director of Harbor House and Cal Lutheran alumna, said. 

Groenveld said there are approximately 300 homeless people in the Conejo Valley area and the rising costs of living are causing a crisis situation right now. 

“I really wanted the students to do hands-on personalized care packages because we are not putting the care packages together, we have the items and the students will be able to do a work line sort of thing where they walk through the line, put stuff in the care package, then write a little note to someone anonymously, making their day better basically, and like ‘hey you are not alone,’” Yakob said. 

Yakob said that a home is a personal community, like Thousand Oaks, so houseless would be not having a physical home and homelessness refers to people who left their homes because they had to. 

The Helping Hands event will also have educational material to help teach students about issues with homelessness and houselessness. Groenveld will also be joining the Office of Civic Engagement and Leadership on Nov. 9 during the making of care packages.

Maidona said that this event is only one of many ways students can go out and be civically engaged within the community. She said she suggesting direct service and community service as other examples. 

“There is other ways as well, like policy and governments and entrepreneurship, advocacy and activism, like this is only one out of many ways that even Civic Engagement is working on making sure we do different things so students can get involved in different ways,” Maidona said. 

Students who cannot make it to the event but wish to donate can do so on the Harbor House website or in person during their meal program, from 4-4:30 p.m. every day at the Holy Trinity Lutheran Church on the corner of  West Avenida de Los Arboles and Mountclef Blvd.

This article was updated on Nov. 13 at 10:26 p.m. to correct the spelling of Jeanie Maidona’s last name. We regret this error.