By Tess Wallenstein
"I am just another teenager,” says Olivia McGuigan modestly. But Olivia has never let this humble outlook hold her back from achieving big things.
In the summer preceding her junior year at CCA, McGuigan, along with her dad Dave, made her first trip to the cross streets of 15th and Island, located in the eastern portion of downtown San Diego. The pair walked the streets, passing out dozens of homemade peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to the San Diegan’s who called these streets home. For Olivia, the tents, shopping carts, and makeshift beds scattered on these cold sidewalks came in startling contrast to the Carmel Valley lifestyle. It was at that moment that she was compelled to act.
With the help of several likeminded friends and the guidance of her father, word got out about Olivia’s mission. At the start of the next school year, McGuigan gave her cause an official title: Club PB&J.
Since its August 2011 founding, Club PB&J has amassed approximately 75 regular members, including CCA students of all grade levels, several Pacific Ridge students, and numerous parent volunteers. The club’s members gather on the first Saturday evening of every month at McGuigan’s home. In an assembly line-like fashion, members make approximately 150 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from 16 loaves of bread.
Aside from sandwiches, the club receives and distributes donations from San Diego-based NIKA water (sold at the Nest and familiar to Ravens who watched/attended TEDXYouth last November) and PopChips. During the holiday season, McGuigan bakes cookies to be distributed to the homeless; for the club’s November through February outings, the club collects and distributes warm clothing donations.
While the food is of crucial importance to the Club, McGugian acknowledges that the interaction with San Diego’s homeless is far more meaningful.
“But it is not just about the food or clothing -- we get to know each person. We talk to them, ask them how they are doing, and learn who they truly are,” says McGuigan.
At the end of last year, McGuigan submitted a blog post detailing Club PB&J’s mission to huffingtonpost.com. In late January, she received word that she had been honored as a finalist in the Huffington Post’s Teen Impact Program, an award that came as a surprise to McGuigan.
With the end of her senior year quickly approaching, McGuigan hopes that one of Club PB&J’s younger members will assume her role as President and make the club a staple at CCA for years to come.
For more information about Club PB&J, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.