With a little PB&J, Carmel Valley teen helps to ‘spread’ awareness of poverty and homelessness


Priyanka Paintal, a senior this fall at Torrey Pines High School and a Girl Scout, wanted to make her peers aware of the problems of poverty and homelessness that existed around them.

Peanut butter and jelly helped her bring about more awareness and also work toward her Girl Scout Gold Award.

“The Gold Award is one of the most prestigious awards a Girl Scout can receive,” said Priyanka, “and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication.” She had already achieved the Silver and Bronze awards, and was determined to go for the Gold.

To that end, she wanted to address the issue of homelessness, aiming to make her community of Carmel Valley, and particularly the children, more aware of the problem.

“People in Carmel Valley are not usually acquainted with poverty and its consequences, so my main goal was to educate these kids on the way some people are forced to live,” she said. At school, she started the PB&J Club with the help of two friends. “The club was dedicated to teaching kids about homelessness and taking action to help the homeless people.”

At the first meeting, Priyanka gave all the members a survey to measure how much they knew about the issue. She also gave PowerPoint presentations with statistics and facts on this subject.

“One of the ways in which we address homelessness is by making PB&J sandwiches and then going to downtown San Diego to hand them out to the homeless people,” she said. “Actually seeing the homeless has had a huge impact on the members of my club. It helped open their eyes to a different form of society and appreciate what they already have.”

Another way Priyanka built awareness was to collaborate with organizations such as FFCC (Friends and Family Community Connection) and Solutions for Change, which gave the club members additional perspective on the issue.

Priyanka also took her presentations to schools outside her community to help educate other students about these problems. “My mission was to spread the message to as many people as possible, especially children,” she said.

Priyanka said she has learned a lot through this project and it has helped her with leadership skills. She is already training the club’s junior members to take over the club once she leaves for college.

“I hope that this will inspire children to keep wanting to help the less fortunate and care for others.”