Thankful for Community


Gabby Lopez, Features Writer, The Lancer

Two things might come to mind when thinking about Thanksgiving. Family — and food. Yet, for many families, a “Thanksgiving feast” isn’t a first thought. In 2018, almost 1 in 7 homes with children could not afford the food needed to feed their families, (

Thousand Oaks High School Project Concern is taking steps to help students and their families.

The annual Project Concern food drive began last Thursday. Each second period class collected donations of cans, frozen turkeys, and more. The two top classes receives an “extravagant” breakfast on Nov. 22. Food also goes to the MANNA Conejo food bank.

“It just warms my heart… and I think it’s because [the community’s generosity] starts with the kids… [L]ooking outside of your own little world and realizing that there are people out there that need help…” Veronica Ellias, member of MANNA Board of Directors and Past President, said.

TOHS project Concern is an on-campus club that is in charge of these school wide events. Headed by Eileen Moore, the club meets every Wednesday at lunch in J7. They discuss families in need, and promote and conduct drives. For over 20 years, they have made a difference in the community. Last year, they helped 33 families during Thanksgiving, and 32 at Christmas.

“I am one of Project Concern’s success stories,” Moore said. “When… I heard that Project Concern lacked an advisor, I realized this was something I needed to do. This club is too valuable to those who benefit from its service not to carry its mission forward.”

The club is both student and teacher lead. This year, senior Julian Bonilla is the president of the club. Sophomores Maksim Pinchuk and Austin Ferretiz are vice president and secretary, respectively.

“[In the club] you can do a lot of things and help students. We try to make newcomers feel welcome by helping them at school. We try to be someone that’s here for them. It helped me realize there’s more than what you see [in people].” Bonilla said.

Project Concern and TOHS partner three other times every year. Information about the other drives can be found at

The drives have touched many TOHS students. So make a difference, and donate during future drives. Every gift counts.

MANNA – Veronica Ellias
It just warms my heart. This community has always been very very generous with MANNA, and I think it’s because it starts with the kids. I think you guys are wonderful for looking outside of your own little world and realizing that there are people out there that need help and it’s just so generous of you guys to take the time to help the oppele in our neighborhood that need it.

My favorite part is when I get __ the people it’s actually helping. Before I got involved with MANNA, I never even realized there were hungry people in this community, because it’s a wealthy community and most of the time you see people driving around and going to restaurants and it’s hard to believe they’re hungry. But as I’ve gotten involved with MANNA, I __ that the faces of MANNA are people that could be living right next door to me, and you feel good that we’re doing something that can help people stay in their homes and get over things that have happened to them, and that we can be a part of that. That we can help them get through difficult times of their lives.

How has it changed me? Well, it has broadened my understanding of my community. It has made me realize that this community, although we’ve gotten a lot bigger and there’s a lot more people, it’s the most generous, wonderful community that you could live in, and it’s made me more aware. Before I got involved with MANNA, I would go to work, come home, get in my house, watch TV, but I wasn’t involved. I didn’t know what was happening in my community. It was just kind of out there, but not really in my head. I didn’t really know what was going on. And now, because of my involvement in MANNA, it’s made me realize what this community is all about, and all the people that are involved in things like this. It’s gotten __ people, wonderful people that I never would have if I hadn’t gotten involved with MANNA.