By KEITA ICHII
The holiday season is widely known for its “spirit of giving,” regardless of what you celebrate. Friends and family often exchange gifts and enjoy warm meals amidst the cold winter weather. One group embraces the spirit of giving all year round: Families Forward. As part of the larger Families Forward organization, the UHS branch is responsible for local operations. According to senior and club president Alexander Wazzan, the purpose of the club is to “raise awareness for the ongoing hunger crisis in Orange County, and to directly help through serving at food centers and gathering donations.”
As part of their awareness campaign, Families Forward tries to inform fellow students and their families of the struggles many people in Orange County face.“We tend to be in one of the very small bubbles of Orange County which has access to a lot of resources, and as a result, we tend to ignore the homeless,” said vice president senior Amrut Ayyala. The bulk of the club’s work takes on the form of food drives. Every year, the club holds their consistently successful food drive. As an organization, Families Forward has received over 700 food donations and reached 680 different families this year alone; Wazzan hopes to break 200 donations from UHS this year.
“Any amount does make a difference,” he said. “We want to bring families back to their feet and keep them operating.”
The goal of each food drive is to get materials and ingredients that are both healthy and nutritious, and to provide materials to families that they wouldn’t mind cooking with.
“Fresh vegetables, healthy stuff like potatoes or carrots, are all good,” said senior and club publicist Oliver Corpus.“New, non-perishable items that a family would cook with are great, too,” Ayyala said. “The goal is to provide things families can make warm, home-cooked meals out of.”
Ayyala also emphasized the importance of constant aid for these families. “It’s really important that people continue to give donations throughout all times of the year,” he said. “After the holiday season, people tend to slow down in donation after the holiday season and tax season. So our goal is to keep these food drives continued and sustained… so that we’re able to give them food all year round.”For the holiday season, Families Forward has decided to make holiday cards and gift baskets. According to Wazzan, club members have been making holiday cards and bracelets that are then sent to the Families Forward center.
“…We encourage the UHS student body to come to our meetings and to complete these holiday cards,” he said. “We try to cheer people up in light of the holiday season, because it should be a time of prosperity.”