A world record was attempted, people in need were fed and students at San Diego Jewish Academy learned a lesson about helping their community on Monday when they assembled more than 800 sandwiches in under three minutes.
"We want our students to know it's not enough to talk about the changing the world," said school head Chaim Heller. "It's not enough to raise money to change the world. You have to use your hands and feet. This is a step toward being lifelong change-agents."
The world record for making the most sandwiches in three minutes had been 490, and about 550 students from kindergarten to 12th grade may have shattered that record by assembling 868 sandwiches in the school gym.
The sandwiches were donated to the Alpha Project, which served them later that day to homeless people staying at the nonprofit's 325-bed bridge shelter and low-income residents at the 203-unit Alpha Square.
Rabbi Philip Graubart, chief Jewish officer and director of the Advanced Institute for Judaic Studies at the academy, said the project was one of two activities the parents club creates each school year that provides students an opportunity to interact with a local charity or service provider.
Heller said parent club members Jacky Shapiro and Karin Zell have been in contact with Guinness Book of World Records officials who provided the academy with the proper protocols to follow, including videotaping the attempt and checking every sandwich.
Students filed into the school gym to find 52 tables waiting for them, each with a slices of bread, lettuce, sliced tomatoes, American cheese and small cups holding a dollop of mustard. Forty-five parent volunteers also were on hand to help, and a guide about what to put on each sandwich -- two slices of cheese, one slice of tomato and one piece of lettuce -- was at each table.
"We really appreciate it," Alpha Project Chief Operating Officer Amy Gonyeau told students before they went to work. "You're going to break a world record. Let's do it!"
The gym's scoreboard was set at three minutes. A countdown commenced, a buzzer sounded and tables throughout the gym became a flurry of fast-moving cheese and bread.
The youngest students would make one sandwich each while older ones made two.
Within two minutes, almost all students had stepped away from their table with their gloved hands in the air to show they had reached their goals. As the clock reached the final five seconds, students erupted into another spontaneous countdown, followed by cheers and high-fives.
Adults checked each sandwich and packed them into aluminum containers while Heller and Gonyeau talked to students about the value of volunteering and about the Alpha Project, which recently opened affordable apartments for homeless veterans in Normal Heights.
A video of the sandwich assembly will be sent to Guinness officials who will determine if the school can claim the new speedy sandwich-making record.
— Gary Warth is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune