San Benito High School sophomore AVID students helped fill bags with donated items to be delivered to the homeless shelter on Dec. 19. Photo by Adam Breen.

This article was contributed by San Benito High School Communications Manager Adam Breen.

More than 100 students in San Benito High School teacher Laurie Chavez’s sophomore AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) class spent a portion of Dec. 14 filling gift bags with more than 30 items that will be presented to approximately 60 guests at the local homeless shelter on San Felipe Road.

In the past few weeks, Chavez and her students gathered more than 3,000 items from the community, SBHS employees, students and their families, local businesses and churches, all with the intention to brighten the season for locals who have fallen on hard times.

The AVID students lined up outside of their classroom during the Academic Focus Time period on Friday, coordinated by Chavez, as parent volunteers and SBHS Educational Services Director Elaine Klauer set out bags into which students gathered personal care items, food and socks designated for male and female recipients. The bags were decorated by second grade students at the Hollister Dual Language Academy and Gabilan Hills School.

Since more items and bags were donated that are needed at the homeless shelter, the remaining 40 or so bags will be given to SBHS students who are experiencing homelessness.

“It’s been such a huge success,” said Chavez, as she kept the assembly line moving to fill the bags. Each AVID grade-level class does community service each year, so Chavez said the sophomores took on this project to give back locally.

“Some colleges don’t require community service hours, but AVID does,” she said. “It’s a way for students to stand out on a college application” while also serving San Benito County residents in need.

“It has been very rewarding and humbling,” Chavez said, thanking the community response to the drive. “My kids will have the opportunity to see how far a small gesture can go.”

Chavez and her students are scheduled to serve dinner to folks at the homeless shelter and present the gift bags on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 5 p.m.