“A lot of the clothes were new clothes. You could find the tags,” he said. “People bought the clothes just to donate them.”
The boys have arranged other efforts, including hand-making sandwiches for Lazarus House. In recent weeks, the team took on a new task: getting each of the school’s six teams to donate 1,000 cans of food or more. As of Monday, they were close to halfway there with just a week to go.
When asked what drives them to help the shelter, 13-year-old Luke Jodoin described the first time he visited the shelter and saw the families their efforts were helping.
“We saw the thrift store. We saw the soup kitchen,” he said. “I thought my room was small, and I have to share with my brother. They pack every corner with beds.”
Vishvesh Kaul, also 13, picked up from there.
“If you’re complaining about, ‘Oh, my room’s too small,’ or, ‘Mom, I didn’t like what you made for dinner last night,’ then you see that people are eating canned food every day and sleeping in a cold room with 10, 15 other people, it makes you really think about what you have,” he said.
Now, as the members of Laz in the House prepare to graduate from West Middle School, they’re looking at the larger student body at Andover High School as an opportunity to expand their efforts. But they also hope their departure doesn’t see an end to their work at West Middle School.
“We want to keep a legacy in this school going,” Robbie Powers, 13, said. Lazarus House has a variety of community partners helping generate food and clothing to keep area families warm and fed.
“We’re very fortunate, in that we get supported from so many schools and so many churches,” Campbell said. “But this group of young men that, honestly, was given a tremendous opportunity by the staff... They were just amazing to bring them together, put them in a leadership role.”