The Serra Morton Family Gymnasium was filled with more than 600 Padres and 50 moms on March 23. The exuberant crowd raised $7,350 and packed 28,000 meals for people in need in San Mateo County and Nicaragua. The effort was a partnership between Serra High School and Generation Alive, a nonprofit organization that was launched by San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt in 2005.
“This is a good project because it reminds us how blessed we are and it keeps us honest,” said senior Aaron Deocampo. “It’s a great cleanse of our soul.”
According to Program Director Darrin Duty, Generation Alive works with about 30 schools per year to serve one million meals. CEO Marty Gonzales said the goal is to teach students to live lives of compassion.
“Our students are learning how these packets of food are going to be used,” noted Ann Ponty, the mother of senior Kevin Ponty. “Through a project like this, they are able to see Jesus in other people.”
“Jeremy challenged our students to be culture changes,” said Campus Ministry Director Billy Byrnes. “Our partnership with Generation Alive was a huge success. It was integral to our annual Lenten Justice Project. We were assisted by Serra moms, alumni and even sophomore Michael Zell’s 91-year-old grandma! I am so proud of our students and the entire school community for their efforts and support in making this a success.”
Byrnes also gave a shout-out to Serra teachers and staff members, Serra moms Melissa Petersen and Michele Blais for coordinating the event and helping with the raffle, and Head Baseball Coach Craig Gianinno for encouraging freshman, JV and varsity players to raise $3,280 for the fundraiser.
Melissa Petersen’s three sons have participated in Generation Alive activities. She noted that Lundberg Family Farms donated a 2,500-pound bag of organic rice. In addition, Jersey Mike’s donated sandwiches for the Pack Out.
In February, Affeldt spoke to Serra Padres during a special assembly to raise awareness about hunger in San Mateo County and in Nicaragua. During the assembly, Padres were urged to be compassionate and to take action.
Affeldt talked about his baseball career path and stressed the importance of having a purpose and a "why." He pointed out that all the money in the world cannot buy happiness. He spoke of his own faith and love of Jesus, which has driven his desire to raise awareness and promote social justice causes.
"It was a humbling experience to listen to Jeremy," said Serra varsity baseball pitcher Kevin Welch. "He is someone to look up to because he is using his role as a public figure to express his faith and make a difference. Our team is engaged in Chapel right now and we practice our faith together throughout the season."
"Jeremy knows that you can be a wealthy athlete or a famous person, but unless you have a purpose in life, unless you are working and living for others - especially the vulnerable - then you will be unhappy," Byrnes explained. "We are so grateful to Jeremy for giving his time and sharing his faith with our students. He is a true inspiration and he challenged us to take action during Lent. The Campus Ministry staff is excited that the Serra community raised enough money to make 28,000 food bags that will help so many people in need."
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