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Jesse Brodrick collects 300 pounds of food for Neighborhood House during cap and gown pickup

Jesse Brodrick was getting stagnant. After more than two months of not going to school, or seeing friends like normal, something had to give.

"My mom was like, 'Jesse you're playing too many video games, you need to do something for your community,'" he said. So on May 28, as he and fellow Wilson High School seniors were planning to pick up their caps and gowns before graduation, he got creative.

PHOTO COURTESY OF JESSE BRODRICK - Jesse Brodrick, a Wilson High School graduate, used his last days as a senior to organize a food drive to benefit Neighborhood House. Brodrick collected donations during a cap and gown pickup event at the high school.Brodrick, 18, found a way to turn the cap and gown pickup event into a food drive to benefit Neighborhood House — a Southwest Portland nonprofit organization aimed at delivering senior services and helping Portlanders overcome hunger and homelessness. What started as a nudge to get off the couch ended up bringing in 300 pounds of donated food.

"I got an email for cap and gown pick up, so I said, 'Hey I may as well do something good,'" Brodrick said. A quick phone call to Neighborhood House revealed they were happy to accept donations, so the high school senior put out the call for donations via social media.

He got a signal boost with the help of Wilson High School administrators, who announced the food drive on the school's Instagram page and in emails to students and families.

"We have an amazing community, so everyone saw the emails and coordination from the Instagram page, and said, 'Yeah, we'll definitely bring some food.'"

Students delivered. By the end of the cap and gown pickup, Brodrick amassed roughly 300 pounds worth of canned and dry goods.

"I carried it all in the back of my car," he recalled, filling up his family's SUV.

Brodrick will head to the University of Oregon this fall and says he'd like to eventually transfer to Colorado to study environmental engineering.


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