WESTWOOD, Calif. – Starting out with an empty shopping cart, four members of the North Westwood Neighborhood Council went on a field trip to a local supermarket, and began filling it up.
For Ernesto Arciniega, the $1,000 that they're using from the council's emergency fund to buy items for the unhoused in their community is being spent on a crucial cause during the coronavirus crisis.
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“This is a perfect opportunity for us to really give back to the community to really support each other and to really come together,” said Arciniega.
Arciniega and his three neighborhood council colleagues are all current students or graduates of UCLA. A top priority for their council is helping the unhoused in the Westwood community. They're staying focused on that cause during the current pandemic.
“It’s about the community supporting others in the community and building coalitions,” said Arciniega.
Water, snacks, toiletries, hygiene kits, and the last of the bread. The group found most of the items they needed, but there were quite a few empty shelves.
“No more tuna," said Arciniega, passing the empty canned food section. “I think that a lot of people are, you know, sort of panicking with the whole situation is very understandable. But we need to ensure that most of these resources are also towards the core really in need right now.”
Shopping amongst people wearing masks, he took a moment to take some preventative measures himself and he rubs some Purell onto his hands. The supplies they're buying will be distributed to unhoused people in the Westwood community by the nonprofit group Street Watch LA.
Neighborhood Council member Noreen Ahmed said, “We want to work with different groups on trying to figure out how we can get more support towards some of these issues. Support the people who are doing this on the ground, and doing it in a way that's responsible and respectful. Without putting anyone in danger.”
Arciniega and his neighborhood council colleagues are hoping their efforts will set an example for others.
“Not only as council members but as human beings, I believe that this type of initiative, these types of actions, are really going to push our community forward,” he said.
They end up with a bill of almost $650, so they will be coming back in a few days to use up the remainder of their $1,000 emergency fund.
During difficult times like this is when people truly have the chance to come together and help all of their neighbors get through it.
You can find out what your neighborhood council is doing at: empowerla.org/councils