Hong (10) and Yang (10) serve Societas


Hannah Katzke, Staff Writer

This summer, JoJo Hong (10) and Steve Yang (10) distributed over 150 kits filled with essential items for combatting the pandemic to New York Common Pantry. Together, they started The Societas Project, named after the Latin word for community.

Hong and Yang distribute their hygiene kits at New York City Relief’s Harlem Outreach Program as well as at New York Common Pantry. Using money from donations, they source their items from different wholesalers, Yang said. They are considering fundraising by holding different drives, he said.

“We often see on television the reports of the suffering and the economic devastation caused by this crisis through numbers, but this showed the human, physical side of it,” Yang said. “This experience and the pandemic as a whole has made me more cherishing and more appreciative of the things I currently have.”

The Societas Project was initially inspired by a webinar given by Lauren Bush, the founder of FEED, a lifestyle brand that donates meals to children around the world, Hong said.

Hong and Yang initially wanted to provide food and meals in response to the food insecurity caused by the pandemic, she said. However, after talking to many food pantries, they realized that food donation programs had already been established, and the pantries told them they had lacked donations in sanitary supplies. “We adjusted our mission to focus on providing hygiene kits instead of food,” Hong said. 

Along with their work at New York City Relief’s Harlem Outreach and New York Common Pantry, Hong and Yang hope to create a club at school with the help of the school’s Center for Community Values and Actions, Yang said. Their club would do the same work as they have been doing with the Societas Project. 

“Our goal is to have a platform to reach out to the most people possible, but right now, we are focusing on the Harlem and the Bronx community,” Yang said.