Students organize, participate in community volunteer intitatives

In light of Thanksgiving, the upcoming holiday season and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, students and clubs are making an effort to give back to their communities.

Some students are adapting and postponing their community service projects, moving them toward the winter holidays due to COVID-19 concerns and rising case numbers in Los Angeles.

Plus One, a student-run club that focuses on mental health and grief, hosted speakers from the Violence Intervention Program (V.I.P.), an organization that works to aid child survivors of violence and assault, during a Zoom meeting Nov. 18.

“As a club that deals with mental health and trauma, it was an eye-opening experience to learn about what V.I.P. does,” Plus One co-president Lola Cortez ’22 said. “V.I.P spoke to us about an array of volunteering opportunities.”

Cortez said she was moved by the work V.I.P does in Los Angeles.

“Plus One had the pleasure of hosting V.I.P,” Cortez said. “V.I.P is an LA-based organization that for the last 30 years has offered asylum and treatment for victims of violence and assault.”

One such opportunity is V.I.P.’s “Santa’s Workshop” program, in which volunteers either virtually select gifts for the children V.I.P. works with or wrap gifts in person. Members of Plus One also have the opportunity to partake in V.I.P.’s virtual mentoring and tutoring program.

Other student-run organizations at the school are engaging in community service projects in anticipation of the winter season. SoCal Beach Cleanup, a student-led environmental club that organizes cleanups at Los Angeles beaches and spreads environmental awareness, plans to give back this Thanksgiving and holiday season.

SoCal Beach Cleanup co-president Thea Pine ’23 said the club hopes to host at least one beach cleanup day before winter break but will adjust in accordance with COVID-19 concerns and an uptick in cases in Los Angeles County, as reported by the Los Angeles Public Health Department.

As holiday shopping begins, the club is also aiming to support small businesses by posting short, informative videos about eco-friendly brands on its Instagram account.

“With the pandemic, it is important to not undermine the justice our environment deserves,” Pine said. “We plan to spread awareness through social media, host cleanups when safe and educate people on the importance of our environment and how to make a positive impact on it.”

Bear Boxes, a school club that aims to donate necessities to orphanages and schools, will host its first fundraiser Dec. 5, organized by co-presidents Julianna Ross ’22 and Kendra Ross ’23.

Club members plan to collect items including blankets, books, toys and school supplies directly from donors’ houses and give them to the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild.

“All children are entitled to a carefree childhood,” Julianna Ross said. “It is vital that we not only support our elders, but [also] our own generation.”

Kendra Ross said that the pandemic has placed an added strain on the orphans the Orphanage Guild serves.

“These circumstances lead to more orphans having very scarce resources,” Kendra Ross said. “I think it is essential to spread kindness and give to other children who aren’t as fortunate.”

Julianna Ross also encouraged others to help in their own communities due to the stress and burden that the pandemic has caused on others.

“Especially with COVID-19, we hope to make numerous kids live more freely and comfortably,” Julianna Ross said. “It is vital that we not only support others, but, more in particular, also support our own generation.”

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