Inspired by their mothers’ efforts to feed their local San Jose community, Ayaan and Josh are making a difference for those experiencing homelessness with simple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—and they’re inspiring other young people to get involved, too.
When Ayaan Vaswani and Josh Isaac were growing up in San Jose, California, their mothers would go to each other’s houses to make sandwiches for people experiencing homelessness in their community. Although Ayaan and Josh were young at the time, seeing this commitment to kindness and giving back instilled those same values.
“We live comfortable, safe lives with food on our plates and a roof over our heads. But many are not so lucky,” Ayaan and Josh share on their fundraiser.
Years later, both Ayaan and Josh started at Bellarmine College Preparatory, a private all-boys Jesuit school that emphasizes service to the community.
“Something that sets [Bellarmine] apart is the brotherhood that we have. The relationships we have with one another, and how the school fosters that companionship is really cool,” shares Ayaan.
Ayaan and Josh decided they wanted to form a school club together, and while brainstorming ideas, Ayaan thought of their mothers standing together in the kitchen, making sandwiches—and the Lunch Bag Initiative was born.
Every Wednesday morning before school, Ayaan, Josh and 10 other club members meet to assemble 100 sandwiches, which are then delivered to either a church or homeless shelter.
“Seeing the smiles on their faces when we handed out the sandwiches—something so little can make someone smile. It’s just really meaningful,” shares Ayaan.
To help cover the costs of sandwich supplies, Ayaan and Josh started a GoFundMe. In just a couple of months, it raised $1,355 from 28 donors. Donations help cover the costs of bread, jelly, peanut butter, granola bars, fruit, bags, and sanitary supplies.
“It’s been really amazing. When we first started, I honestly didn’t think we would get more than like $20. When we hit the first marker of $800, I was blown away. That’ll probably fund the club for at least another half a year. So we can keep on doing it till I’ve graduated at least,” shares Josh.
Ayaan and Josh plan to continue growing the Lunch Bag Initiative throughout their remaining high school years, and hope that a younger member will be inspired to keep things running once they’re off to college. For others who are inspired to make a difference in their own community, but may be nervous to ask for help, Ayaan has this advice to share:
“It would surprise you that the people around you will definitely be willing to help you out. And it doesn’t have to be big or anything. Because if everyone does something little to help the community, then the community will be a better place, and we can make the better world that we all hope for.”