The Mercer Island chapter of National League of Young Men (NLYM) recently held its first food and toiletry drive for Youth and Family Services.
The chapter of about 120 young men collected 456 bags of groceries and 888 rolls of toilet paper, for a total of 6,840 items in front of QFC, Nov. 3-4.
NLYM is a nonprofit organization for young men in grades 9-12. The program is for mothers and their sons, and it promotes the development of young men into community leaders through leadership involvement, charitable and community service, cultural experiences and protocol education.
The Mercer Island chapter of NLYM was started about five years ago by Jamie Shanks, and the program is still developing.
Mercer Island High School (MIHS) junior Daniel Hankes is an officer for the chapter. He said he enjoyed participating in the food drive to be able to help others.
“It was great to see so many Island families go into QFC and then come out with a lot of food for others who need it, based on what Youth and Family Services said they needed,” he said. “We also helped them stock shelves so they are ready to distribute the items.”
The inspiration behind the drive stemmed from Karen Zimmer and Tracy Hatt. Zimmer reached out to Kimberly Richards at Youth and Family Services for a list of their needs, and Hatt was the person who decided the drive should be an annual event because there is a continual need for these supplies.
“Both of these collections are brand new for us; however, both were wildly successful. We would love to make these annual events,” Hankes said.
For many of the young men in the chapter, it was difficult to find the time to volunteer, but they said it was still a rewarding experience.
“I am in my junior year, am the Senior Patrol Leader for my Boy Scout Troop and, in addition to MIHS, I study at the Seattle Conservatory of Music on the weekends, so the most challenging part for me was finding time to volunteer,” Hankes said. “However it is very important that we never forget that there are people who need help and we need to show up… The most rewarding part for me has been feeling like what I do can make someone’s life a little better.”