On November 23, 2017, Seagull Leadership International decided to celebrate Thanksgiving Day in a nontraditional way. Instead of shopping or watching football, SLI joined San Francisco City Impact’s annual Thanksgiving Day Outreach. City Impact has been around for 33 years with a mission to intervene on behalf of the people in the inner city of San Francisco. This organization focuses on improving the lives of people in the Tenderloin, one of the toughest districts in San Francisco with extremely high crime and poverty rates. About 30,000 residents live within one square mile, with 6,000 homeless and 3,000 children.
At around 8:45 am, more than 700 people gathered on Jones Street to attend orientation and prepare for the day’s activities. All the volunteer were divided into different groups, including kids and youth outreach, hosts and greeters, hair and makeup, building party, medical area, clothing, and many other groups. SLI members were split into two groups: kids and youth outreach and hosts and greeters.
After orientation, members of the kids and youth outreach groups started to set up the kids’ carnival. Volunteers were assigned to various activity stations, including balloon darts, bean bag toss, bowling, board games, face paint, a bouncy house, a sandbox, and a bubble machine. Two SLI members were assigned to the board game station, which included games like checkers, Guess Who, mancala, Connect 4, and building blocks which two other members were managing the bean bag toss. Kids from toddlers to teens enjoyed the activities at both stations. One boy played an intense game of checkers that lasted over 30 minutes, and many other kids enjoyed numerous games of Guess Who and Connect 4. Both members managing the station tried to make the experience more enjoyable by letting the kids win as much as possible. The bean bag toss stations also received lots of visits. Some of the kids who played came back again and again, and one of the toddlers had barely started walking but still tried her luck at the game.
Members of the hosts and greeters also had an enjoyable time. Upon separation from the rest of the volunteers, they were further divided into different categories, such as registration, interior greeters, and line greeters. Interior greeters had the job of talking to people once they entered and ensuring that everyone knew where to go. The line greeters were sent out to the long line ten minutes before opening to talk and entertain the people waiting there. The whole line seemed to become a party where old friends talked their hearts out.
Overall, the members of Seagull all had a great time and felt that this experience of helping others was extremely fulfilling. SLI members plan to return and attend this event again in 2018 and all the following years.