2020 Operation Others – How Will it Work?


Luke Heck, Jay Journal Staff

Every year, Operation Others provides many great services for people in need in the Omaha metropolitan area. This year, especially, their job is made very difficult because of the Covid-19 virus. Jay Journal spoke to Mr. Paul Lawler, one of the heads of Operation Others, as well as a member of the Core team. The Operation Others Core team is made up of students from all seven of the Omaha Catholic high schools.

Jay Journal: Because of Covid, have you needed to make any changes to the way Operation Others runs this year?

Mr. Paul Lawler: “The biggest one is that we… probably will avoid having any large group gatherings… you know so that means a lot of the large group meetings, and some of those events, we might not be able to have them, because of the… you know the CDC and the Douglas County health guidelines that they’ve given us. But as far as delivery week, and being able to have canned food drives… turkey drives, all those things, they should be able to go off  without a hitch. We’re optimistic. We probably won’t be able to do everything that we want to do in terms of the large group meetings, but I think the whole goal and point of Operation Others can be achieved.”

Question: If we ever return to fully online learning, do you have any ideas of what Operation Others will look like?

Lawler: “We kind of have a little bit of experience right now, because for the most part, our core team meetings have been remote meetings, and so those are typically weekly meetings where we meet with core team students from all schools… and those have been Zoom meetings, but if we ever go fully online here at Prep, I’m confident that we can still have something like a canned food drive where the students can come up and drop off the food… that they collect up here at Prep. We could still have a turkey drive and I think ultimately we could still pull off delivery week, even if we’re fully remote.”

Question: What are some upcoming events to look forward to?

Lawler: “… The Operation Others club this Friday (October 2nd). On the 25th, we have our first club gathering where we’ll be packaging some food that will go in delivery boxes. We have about thirty students that have signed up for that… it’s Kids Against Hunger, and so we’ll be packaging food up here, and then typically every month we’re going to have a service project, as well. So, we’ll have one in October… I think we’re looking at that third week in October. So those are kind of the events coming up in the near future, and ways that guys can get involved… and of course we’ll have Canned Food Drive, Turkey Drive, Trick-or-Treating for Cans, then the delivery week too.

Question: How can someone get involved in these events?

Lawler: “I think the easiest thing to do is come and see me, Mr. (Jerry) Kinney, or Mr.(Dave) Lawler in Campus Ministry, let us know that you’re interested… And then of course showing up to all the events, so whether it’s this Friday, packaging… you have to sign up for that… If it’s coming to Trick-or-Treat for Cans, helping out on the Turkey Drive, of course raising money. We have mission collections, all the mission collections are going to Operation Others. So if you contributed to mission collections… is a great way… canned food drive, all those things. There’s definitely a number of events and a lot of ways to get involved before the actual delivery week even happens.”

Question: How have you and the rest of the Core team been affected by the changes made to Operation Others this year?

Core team member John Burns: “We’re not allowed to meet in person, so usually… all the Core team meetings, where they figure out, you know, what goes behind the process. (We are) unable to meet in person, so it’s been hard to get to know the other people on the team. And then, also just communication makes it difficult to get ideas off and do it more efficiently.”

Question: What kind of say has the Core team had in any decisions regarding Operation Others and Covid?

Burns: “The large group meeting where they have… they sort of run the students, from all different schools, through different… how O.O. works, and have a speaker come and everything. My group tried to make it work, that’s what we’re in charge of, but we don’t think that’s going to be possible in the time that we have since it’s only two days away. This affected (me) personally is that we’re not going to do the meeting, we’re probably going to have to lean towards making a video to raise awareness for Operation Others instead.”

Question: What events do you feel are important to look forward to this year?

Burns: “You should look forward to Trick-or-Treat for Cans. That’s the event where students go around the neighborhoods, around Prep… and you can drop off… a couple weeks before, the Core team will drop off bags that families can put groceries in and stuff… Trick-or-Treat for Cans is when you’ll be able to go around and collect all the cans… It’s a huge collection for the food that will eventually be distributed out. For the other event that you should go to… you could be there at packing day. Basically, it’s called delivery week, where the O.O. actually delivers all the food to all the families. It starts with the packing day where you pack all the food up into bags that can be distributed the next day. And then if there’s one event that you’re going to attend, then go be a food deliverer on the Saturday that Operation Others gives out the food to the families in Omaha.”

Question: Why do you think someone should want to be a part of Operation Others?

Burns: “I think it’s a great club, it’s a great way to experience and understand the impoverished people around Omaha. At Prep, I think we’re all really lucky to be here, so we don’t really have much experience with that… being able to understand… low income families, who are struggling to find meals, and being able to serve them, and be able to meet them, I think is something that all Prep students should value highly.”

Question: Why do you think someone should want to be a part of Operation Others?

Lawler: “I think a couple of reasons… number one, as a Catholic school, you know, it’s a part of who we are… in the Gospels, Jesus asked:  “When I was hungry, did you feed me? When I was naked did you clothe me?” That seems to be kind of the test, at least, in the Gospels as to whether or not we’re living out this call to discipleship. I think on another level as a Catholic and Jesuit school… one of the characteristics of the Grad at Grad is that we strive and encourage students to be committed to doing justice and loving, and I think both of those characteristics are very much embodied in Operation Others. Love in a sense that we’re looking out for the well-being of another person… and committed to doing justice, ensuring that people have access to good, healthy food. So I think it’s very much a part of our mission, and then also maybe just on a (pragmatic) level, it’s a great way to meet people, to get involved, and to meet students from other schools… and be involved in a mission that’s, you know, bigger than just, kind of, our own self-interest. And so I think it’s a great way to get involved.”