Holiday Helping Hands

Published on Feb. 26 2020


Organizations host toy drives for local communities.

By Samantha Wang

Around the AHS community, there are several groups that hosts special events and programs during the holiday season. The Davis Street Family Resource Center, AHS SIA club, and Health and Medicine Academy work with local corporation and government agencies that donate to the families in need.

Photo Illustration | Samantha Wang

In the past years, SIA, Students in Action club, had been running school supply drives to donate to the California Wildfire Relief Foundation. This year, however, they planned a toy drive instead to help families with small children. SIA co-president Nathalie Bombase helped arrange the drive with the Alameda Point Collaborative Shelter. Their goal is to keep giving back to the homeless a reoccuring theme.


“The purpose of having drives like this is to remind students that there is always something that they could do to help those in need or give back to their community,” Bombase said.


As she became more involved in such service events, she remembered the initial reason for joining a club of SIA: to give back to her community and help others.


“I am involved in leadership and several service clubs here on campus, yet I find it so easy to get caught up in my own life and school work that I forget about the real reason I value service so much. This drive was a reality check to me that I’m a hypocrite. I talk about how important service is yet I do not take as much initiative as I can to help others. This drive was that initiative,” Bombase said. •

Photo Courtesy of Selina Mandel

Health and Medicine Leadership is hosting their 9th annual toy drive from Dec. 4 to Dec. 18, working with the Alameda County Fire Department to help local families. Last year, they collected approximately $3,000 dollars of toys to give to the families. H&M co-leader and science teacher Selina Mandel oversees the drive. She believes that by running drives like this, students can feel like they are bringing the community together with a common cause.


“We give [the toys] to the Alameda County Fire Department, but the fire department that’s over here...they are the ones who come over here. That’s community,” Mandel said. “They are all part of the community, and they see all the kids [and family] in this community. When there’s a hardship...the fire department is who steps up. And during the holidays, they provide some nice toys or trinkets of some sort to make them [the families] feel better.”


For the first round, they collected a total of 227 boxes of toys. However, Mandel believes the meaning behind distributing the goods is more significant than the quantity.


“The amount of toys people are willing to donate or even cash to buy more [are great],” Mandel said. “It’s always nice to give back to the community and to help those that are not doing so great.” •

          Every year, the Davis Street Family Resource Center supplies approximately 1,000 low-income families with goods in the Holiday Basket and Bikes for Tykes Programs. Bike for  Tykes has been serving the community for over 46 years, working with the San Leandro Police Department to purchase items from local businesses. Last year, 400 new bicycles and helmets were donated to children in need.

          The basic needs assistant of Davis Street Kristal Gonzalez works towards helping families feel a sense of warmth.

          “They [the clients] were homeless,were living in their van for about two and a half years, and have two little kids,” Gonzalez said. “They [the volunteers] got the kids some special toys that they really wanted [that] they weren’t able to afford. We had a volunteer dressed up as Santa Claus and went out to the van...The parents were crying.”

          These items were donated; but to Gonzalez, there are other ways that people can give back to their communities, and she is doing what she can to help families in need.

          “There are a lot of different ways that you can...donate, but even coming out and helping them a little bit is a way of showing your donations,” Gonzalez said. •

Photo Courtesy of Davis Street Family Resource Center

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