Yera Nanan | Contributor
On Wednesday, July 29, Black Lives Matter IE hosted a San Bernardino food drive which looked to feed 1,000 of the city’s less fortunate residents.
The drive was established in the parking lot of the Waterman Discount Mall, creating an accessible way for vehicles and the homeless to grab groceries.
Face masks and large bottles of hand sanitizer were also given out so individuals could be proactive in fighting against the COVID-19 virus.
BLM IE outreach and website director, Avery Garrett, was the driving force in helping to bring this event into fruition.
“We had an anonymous donation that pretty much took care of all of the food…people see us and think that 90 percent of the work we do is protest which is really a small fraction of what we do,” Garrett said.
This chapter of BLM does host various protests, marches, and community meetings around the Inland Empire but this group also finds that giving back is just as important.
“I handle all of the food drives…we really were talking about how we can be more community involved and community based,” mentioned Garrett.
The drive not only featured BLM IE leaders lending a helping hand, but also other individuals from the community looking to get involved.
“I came to volunteer and hand out groceries to the less fortunate…I saw Avery post a flyer and I just decided to get out of the house and come lend a hand,” said volunteer Jiros Vickson.
People from all over the community came to get large boxes of fresh fruits and vegetables, since the pandemic has created financial insecurities for some families.
“People are really grateful to have the gift that we are giving today…more than just the Black Lives Matter movement, we are also in a pandemic and people are suffering out there,” Vickson said.
This drive was also able to garner support and labor from CensusIE, which is a group of nonprofit and community-based organizations looking to secure an accurate count of the region.
“Out of nowhere they sent me a message and I talked to them that day and ever since then they have been reliable…they have showed up and showed out,” Garrett said.
This group has also been able to gain support for drives like this from non-Black members in the community looking to be an ally to the cause.
“I like the teamwork between everybody and I just like seeing people come together to really help out a cause that needs to be highlighted right now,” said volunteer Clarissa Gutierrez.
The BLM IE chapter is looking to do more community outreach like this while also trying to find a balance with fighting against the injustices being done to Black individuals.
“Our next event is to protest [Lawrence Bender’s] arrest and pretty much they arrested him and was missing for two weeks since his family didn’t know he was arrested,” Garrett said.
The Bender case has been something that Black Lives Matter IE has been fighting against for weeks so a protest was held July 31st in front of the San Bernardino Courthouse.
For more information on Black Lives Matter IE, please visit their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/blacklivesmatterIE/.
All photos by Yera Nanan