Trinity Classical Academy senior Arianna Laolagi is doing what she can to provide food to those in need in her community.
When she and her family moved from the small town of Beaverton, Oregon, in 2011, she remembers her first encounter with the homeless population in Los Angeles County.
“More than encountering the physical shape of L.A. for the first time, I remember encountering the heartbreaking magnitude of the homeless population here,” Laolagi said. “I remember seeing pregnant mothers walking inside of their thin tents, injured veterans sitting in their rusted wheelchairs and young men laying on the frigid ground with nothing but the clothes on their back.”
It was then she immediately felt a call, knowing she had to do something to help.
In third grade, Laolagi had begun her community service work, volunteering at local churches to pack and pass out peanut butter jelly sandwiches to those in need, then offering to babysit for homeless families so the parents could work without the added stress of affording childcare.
“As my investment deepened, I knew I needed to expand my work and recruit more people my age to make a bigger impact,” she added.
So in February 2018, Laolagi founded Meals That Heal, a volunteer-based Christian collective with 100% of its proceeds dedicated to aiding homeless and unemployed people in L.A. County.
Since its formation, Laolagi and her organization have helped more than 400 homeless people.
“Our team cooks hot and nutritious food plates and distributes them alongside care packages of hygienic necessities,” Laolagi said.
After schools were shut down in March, Laolagi, with the help of her church, Pasadena Seventh Day Adventist Church, and the Meals That Heal team, organized a contactless drive-thru grocery giveaway for nearly 100 families who were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
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