By SOPHIA HUO
The UHS Spark of Love Toy Drive, which will run from December 4 to December 16, is the third of the Live to Give campaign. On Monday, December 7, there was the lunchfest “Deck the Halls,” where the class councils decorated and transformed the two golf carts of the CCA into intercultural holiday sleighs.
“I thought it was a really fun way to get everybody involved in a good cause” said Jaimee Hocker (Jr.). The sleighs will be used to for the remainder of the toy drive to advertise and raise awareness of the toy drive, as well as to celebrate the Live to Give holiday campaign. “A lot of people don’t remember that the toy drive is happening because the end of the year is a really busy time with tests and everyone has a lot of things to do. I hope people will remember from this lunchfest and donate,” Service Project Commissioner Sharika Hegde (Sr.) said.
In the front office, as well as the staff lounge, there is a non-denominational tree decorated with paper ornaments that have the gender and age of a child written on. Participants take an ornament, purchase a new toy fitting for the child and leave the toy unwrapped under the tree. “You don’t give them directly to the child and you never see the child, but we bring all the gifts to the Irvine station [of the Orange County Fire Authority], and they bring them to the Stuff-a-Bus event,” Ms. Jeanne Jelnick (Activities Director) said.
The Spark of Love Toy Drive is sponsored by KABC News and managed along with the county fire department. They hold the Stuff-a-Bus event at three different locations, and their goal is to stuff a bus full of toys. The Orange County Fire Authority brings the toys donated at UHS to the Stuff-a-Bus event in Anaheim, which is the last location of the event. The three sites compete with each other for the most buses filled. Last year, the location that UHS donated to won, with 16 buses stuffed.
Despite having just begun, the toy drive has already received many donations. “You get the joy of giving to other people who are less fortunate. Instead of always receiving, you can help those that are in need. I donated this year, a doll actually; it’s not big but I hope it’s meaningful,” David Kim (Sr.) said.
“The gift of giving is greater than receiving. The best part is it makes you feel really good about yourself, and you’re also making someone else happy,” Cathy Sun (So.) said.
Many staff members and administration also enjoy getting involved. Mr. Matthew Pate (Asst. Principal) always goes with his children to pick out toys, saying that “as humans, we always think about what we don’t have instead of thinking about all that we do have. And I think it’s a valuable lesson to remember that we’re very fortunate.”
Every year, UHS holds a three part campaign to give back to the community during the holidays. The theme of this year is “Live,” so the holiday campaign is known as “#LivetoGive.”
The first #LiveToGive event, the canned food drive, was held in November. It was a huge success, with students and staff donating over 3,400 canned food items to Families Forward of Irvine. UHS clubs, homerooms and sports teams all contributed to the food drive, as well as the four class councils, who competed with staff during “Canstruction,” a lunchfest event that raised awareness of the food drive.
The second #LivetoGive event is the Red Cross Blood Drive is on Tuesday, December 8. Over 100 students and staff will donate and help save lives.
The goal for the amount of toys donated this year is double the amount UHS students raised last year. “One year, the toys piled all the way down the hall; it was a really good year. I want that year again, but we’re striving for greatness this year,” Jelnick said.
“Especially if you didn’t donate during the food drive or if you can’t donate your blood, this is definitely another opportunity to help people. It’s a really good cause and I hope that lots of people donate toys,” said Hegde.