What began as a class project evolved into a nonprofit fairytale called Harvesting Hope.

Tulare Mission Oak High School teacher Michaelpaul Mendoza founded Cultural History, an ethnic studies course focusing on stories rarely told throughout history. Students learn about struggle, injustice, and equity, and brainstorm a group project to make a difference in their school or community. In its year of inception, 2013, students kept coming back to one theme: food drives. With the help of their teacher, the class found an organization that picked fruit from trees in the backyards of homes in Tulare County. This organization was in its final year, nearing its end, when students jumped in, helping pick fruit from residents’ homes and donating to food banks. “Every time we picked an orange, it was directly helping feed somebody. And that was real for students, it was something we could actually touch,” Michaelpaul recalls. Before long, the organization was restored with the exuberance of youth and the hope of making a difference.