Bright and early at Morningside High School in Inglewood, Calif., rows of tent awnings shade dozens and dozens of cardboard boxes, full to the brim with produce and other gifts for residents of Inglewood. It’s buzzing with volunteers waving a line of cars down through the middle of the tents.
In early June, local organizations teamed up with the American Heart Association and UCLA Health to bring health and wellness kits to more than 1,000 Inglewood community members. The kits, which included physical activity equipment and resources, pantry and produce items, PPE (personal protective equipment) and COVID-19 information, toys donated by the Mattel Children’s Foundation, and other giveaways from the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation and Lakers Youth Foundation, were distributed to a steady stream of cars, an inflow that continued through the morning into the afternoon.
The event was part of the Inglewood Active Communities Collaborative started by the AHA three years ago to promote healthy, active living in under-resourced neighborhoods.
“Prior to COVID-19, Inglewood was already facing a lot of challenges, from access to park space, food insecurity…but COVID came and exacerbated everything. We’ve seen an increase in the need for physical activity, for food and information,” said Lawrence Jackson, a third generation Inglewood resident and chairman of the Inglewood Active Communities Collaborative. “Any time there’s a need and there’s a shared purpose with different organizations to address that, the impact is always stronger and all the organizations coming together here allows us to increase the amount of resources we can offer to the community.”
Dr. Kimberly Kirkwood, principal of Morningside High and a volunteer at the event, says that the collaboration “bridges a gap,” bringing “hope and resources” to those hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This has been such a challenging time for so many individuals, families and communities,” said Dr. Medell Briggs-Malonson, an emergency medicine physician with UCLA Health and the Chief of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for the UCLA Hospital and Clinic System who came to the event to volunteer. “That’s why we’re still out here. These types of events really make the difference when so many families are still struggling and trying to make sure that they can support their family.”
Other collaborators involved in the event included the LA Regional Food Bank, Pull Up Neighbor; Ready, Set, Gold! and the Catching Hope-Will & Cara Smith Foundation.
Every week on Fridays at Highland Elementary School, Inglewood residents can also drive up and get produce as part of efforts to connect people in need to healthy, sustainable sources of food.