‘Giving back’ for the holidays

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By Erin Murphy

Katie Rios reads a Dr.Seuss book to three young children during the 4th annual ‘Giving Back’ event. Rios works at the Teacher Preparation and Education office which contributed volunteers and resources to the event. (Khai Le)

By Erin Murphy

On Nov. 17, the 4th annual day of service learning, “Giving Back” was held at the Cesar Chavez Community Center in Riverside. This growing event is made possible through the combined efforts of donations of the community, public and private organizations, and local businesses. Riverside City College also played a huge part in this event with more than four booths set up including one for Teacher Preparation and Education, Our Solar System (to teach local children science facts and show demonstrations), Financial Services Outreach, and one for contact and general information to get new students interested in RCC. Many of the 150 volunteers are also RCC students.

Each booth set up by different organizations and businesses had an educational purpose for this annual service learning event. The Orange Show Speedway race car drivers and vehicles were present along with trophies. Volunteers taught children about speed and math.

Local firefighters along with their big red fire engine were another attraction for families who had the opportunity to explore and learn about the firefighting equipment and fire safety. Plenty of entertainment was available for the children as booths provided arts and crafts, story time, cookie decorating, face painting, a bounce house and a climbing wall.

Emergency Medical Technician and Physician’s Aid students were present giving free health information. Latter Day Saints gave 500 bags of potatoes and provided volunteers. The Inner Club Council gave food and money to pay for the turkeys given out.

Other groups participating by means of educational booths, volunteers, and contributions included Stater Brothers, Albertsons, Riverside Public Library, Americorps National Service, Riverside Family Health Care Center, Head Start, Girl Scouts, Argosy University, UC Riverside’s Sigma Pi Alpha, Riverside Community Health Foundation, and Food4Less.

Through this event more than 528 local families were provided with food for the upcoming holidays. Food4Less donated $1500 worth of food. Volunteers worked to unload trucks and prepare food packages.

There were several cases of surplus food which was donated to Fair Housing, which was able to supply another 250 families with food for the holidays. Over 2,500 individuals were helped by the endeavor.

The event was also serenaded by bands such as, “Groove Session.” The band was supporting the event with their smooth funk for a second year. In between bands, raffle drawings were held yielding prizes such as bikes, a TV, toys, games, and DVDs.

The origin of this event sprang from the Amelia’s Light Foundation which reaches out to homeless women with children by providing them with immediate relief such as food and shelter but more importantly steps to becoming self sufficient through education.

During the first year 32 families were provided food, literacy information, and Financial Outreach information from RCC. Two of the women from this first program completed degrees at RCC.

Annette Ramsey, Americorps Student Event and Volunteer Coordinator became inspired by this first success and wanted to give to the homeless.

Her effort along with the increasing support from the community has caused the event and its positive effect to expand very rapidly.

“It’s about providing the community with services provided by RCC,” Ola Jackson, Associate Dean of Teacher Preparation said. “We don’t want to just feed a person a meal, we want to educate their mind.”

Overall, “Giving Back” was a success with a turnout around 1,500 throughout the day and an even larger number expected next year.

There will also be opportunities on campus to donate toys, books, and time for the upcoming holidays around the world event.

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