Youth Forward Scholarship Winter 2018 – Living Through Giving with Hashtaglunchbag!

Name: Ciara J. Evans
From: Chicago , IL
Grade: High-School Senior
School: Kenwood Academy
Votes: 0

Having opportunities to volunteer in my community is important to me.
In 2015 I was fortunate enough to become a teen hunger advocate
through the organization Hashtag Lunchbag in Chicago. I learned that
their team of volunteers were passionate about the same issue I was;
hunger. My chosen platform, after being crowned Miss Jr. Teen
Illinois United States 2015, was helping to end world hunger and food
insecurity. Coming from Hyde Park in Chicago, the problem of
homelessness and hunger was dear to my heart. Fortunately, we have
organizations such as Hashtag Lunchbag.

Once a month we create lunches, provide water bottles, and place
creative and inspirational messages in each bag. The lunch bags are
uniquely decorated by volunteers. From there we distribute them to
shelters all over the city. We assemble every last Saturday of the
month to create and distribute. Each month the movement grew bigger.
My only challenge was trying to squeeze in to get a spot by my
favorite area, the sandwich making station. My favorite part is
spreading the mustard to each sandwich because I always make it a
smiley face! We went from creating 500-700+ in 2015 to 2000-3000
lunches in 2018. All this growth, solely by word of mouth and
spreading the movement via social media!

Advocates like myself help connect HTLB with schools and
organizations to get the word out. My focus was inspiring more teen
volunteerism. I connected the organization with schools such as New
Trier HS in Winnetka, IL and Kenwood Academy HS in Chicago, IL.
Giving back to the community is very rewarding. My favorite part is
seeing the appreciative faces of those receiving a lunch bag. We may
not realize how important it is for them to receive this meal, but
for many it looked like Hashtag Lunchbag Saturday was their favorite
day of the month.

After many years of service with Hashtag, it unfortunately came time
for my senior year. The year you get ready to go off to college, and
in my case, to a whole new state. I was devastated. I thought I was
only going to be able to work with the organization during my breaks,
which was not enough for me. So, I did my research! I learned that
Hashtag was worldwide. I now volunteer to work with #HashtagLunchbag
– Baltimore every last Sunday of the month. I have joined the
Hashtag leadership team and I couldn’t be happier. We not only go
to shelters, but we walk the streets of downtown Baltimore
distributing to those who could not fit in shelters. Believe it or
not, there are only a number of homeless people that each shelter can
accept. However, this can’t stop us. Everyone deserves a meal.

We are living through giving, and I love it. Be on the lookout. I see
my volunteerism growing. The Baltimore branch makes about 300+
lunches now, but in a few years we will be at 10,000+ with many more

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".