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Whittier Union High School District To Achieve and Maintain Excellence...

Whittier Union High School Thanksgiving Donation Assists Families in Need

One-hundred Whittier-area families in need received an outpouring of holiday cheer complete with Thanksgiving dinner fixings and a $25 Stater Bros. gift card at a Turkey Drive held at Pioneer High School on Nov. 15.

The event was conceived by Helping Homeless Veterans-LA (HHV-LA) President and founder Cynthia Perry-Lopez and her husband, John Lopez, who is Pioneer’s campus operations supervisor.

Families began lining up for the Turkey Drive at 4 a.m. Each car received a grocery bag filled with boxes of stuffing and mashed potatoes, corn, green beans, gravy and the gift card.

“There were so many families lined up we had to start the distribution early,” Perry-Lopez said. “It was a wonderful feeling to be able to help so many people celebrate Thanksgiving. Everyone was so grateful and thanked us.”

The Lopez family has been active in assisting homeless veterans and the local community for over 10 years, partnering with the Bell Shelter to provide clothing, toiletries and general assistance throughout the year, as well as staging an annual holiday dinner and clothing drive for the shelter. In 2017, Perry-Lopez founded HHV-LA as a nonprofit.

“Due to COVID, we have had to curtail most of our direct activities with the homeless shelters, as well as our charity golf tournament, which is staged by Fernando Villegas,” Perry-Lopez said. “Fernando suggested we do a Thanksgiving donation for local families instead. We set a fundraising goal for $2,500 and were so happy that we reached it.”
 
John Lopez has been with Whittier Union for 15 years and came to Pioneer High in 2015. Lopez has received strong support from Pioneer Principal Lilia Bozigian and Assistant Principal Craig Fox, as well as his co-workers and staff.

“A couple of years ago we held a barbecue, and my guys came to me and asked if they could volunteer their help. We fed over 150 homeless vets that weekend, and the goodwill spread throughout the department,” Lopez said. “When there is a need, you’d be surprised how many people want to help out. That’s what makes Cyndie and I so proud, because people are out there who want to give.”

The Lopezes have a long history of military service on both sides of their family, with relatives serving combat duty during World War II, Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. They have seen firsthand the effects of combat service and how difficult it is for returning veterans to acclimate to society. Though HHV-LA is a small nonprofit, it has been able to assist in ways that bigger donors cannot.

“We’re there for the veterans in the middle of the year, helping to replenish their toiletries and clothing and the things they run out of frequently,” Perry-Lopez said. “Veterans contact us throughout the year when they need a place to stay, a hotel room, even transportation. We try to eliminate some of the bureaucracy they go through to get benefits or assistance. If we’ve got the funds, we’re here to help.”
 
For information on how to donate to Helping Homeless Veterans-LA, visit their Facebook, Instagram or Square webpages.

“John and Cyndie Lopez are truly making a difference for homeless veterans and families in need, and have had an amazing impact on campus as well,” Bozigian said. “We are eager to support Helping Homeless Veterans-LA in any way that we can. They are allowing many of our Pioneer families to have a happy holiday season, and we thank them for all they do for us.”
 
PHOTO CAPTIONS:

111820_WUHSD_TURKEYDRIVE1: Helping Homeless Veterans-LA volunteers distributed Thanksgiving dinner fixings and gift cards to 100 Whittier-area families-in-need during a Turkey Drive held at Pioneer High School on Nov. 15. The Turkey Drive was conceived by HHV-LA President and founder Cynthia Perry-Lopez and her husband John Lopez who is Pioneer’s campus operations supervisor.
 
111820_WUHSD_TURKEYDRIVE2: Helping Homeless Veterans-LA President and founder Cynthia Perry-Lopez and her husband, Pioneer High School Campus Operations Supervisor John Lopez, have been active in assisting homeless veterans and the local community for over 10 years. The Lopezes organized a Turkey Drive held Nov. 15 at Pioneer High that provided 100 families with Thanksgiving fixings and gift cards.