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Community joins to help the needy

Amber J. Guadez
Staff Writer

The Interfaith Student Council held a day of service event with the Grow Better Together campaign on Saturday. It was a volunteer day dedicated to planting and cleaning community gardens. There was also a canned food and toy drive.

The Sowing Seeds For Life event, also known as the 5th Annual Christmas in the Park, was a holiday celebration that doubled as a canned food and toy drive.

Hundreds of families gathered at Ganesha Park in Pomona for food giveaways, live music and pictures with Santa.

More than 1,000 pounds of food were provided by the Los Angeles food bank.

Volunteers were given t-shirt as they arrived, a t-shirt most wore during the event. The back of the shirt had a quote, “Students of all faith and traditions are taking actions together and changing the world.”

The idea for implementing the Better Together campaign was taken from an interfaith conference held in Chicago that some members of Interfaith Youth Core attended this past summer.

Before the volunteer groups were sent to two different locations, President Devorah Lieberman welcomed the group with much enthusiasm.

“You guys represent the best, you may be small, but you’re all here serving and that’s important,” Lieberman said.

After an ice breaker, all volunteers were stationed at one of two locations, Constantine Gardens in San Dimas or Sowing Seeds For Life in La Verne.

Constantine Gardens is a community garden converted from an empty lot.

The purpose of the garden is to grow food to provide fresh fruits and vegetables for needy families.

At this location, students were in charge of creating flower beds, leveling out the ground, taking out weeds and installing a scarecrow.

At SSFL, volunteers directed traffic at the toy line and assisted in giving away canned foods to the families.

“Initially it seemed just like any other community service day, but after experiencing it, it was humbling,” Roxana Bautista, freshman psychology major, said. “It really brings you back down to earth.”

As volunteers returned from their locations to campus, a paint station was set up outside the interfaith chapel.

Here the volunteers were encouraged to creatively express their feelings after volunteering.

Students painted things such as, “It was humbling, it brought me down to earth,” as well as, “Smiles are contagious” and “I love to serve.”

After writing creative statements, the group gathered for a final discussion and talked about their favorite part of the day.

“People still had a positive attitude, despite their negative circumstances. It really touched my heart,” Daisy Aldana, senior anthropology major, said.

Due to weather circumstances, there were originally four volunteer locations instead of two.

One of those places included was the Church of the Brethren.

Sowing Seeds For Life is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 by Vicki Brown, who is also the CEO of DPI Labs Inc.

SSFL is also partnered with America’s Second Harvest.

One of the major food donors that supports SSFL life is the Los Angeles Food Bank.

The food distributed by SSFL has served thousands of less fortunate and needy families and people in and around Los Angeles County.

Distribution of food is the first and third Wednesday of every month from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the SSFL headquarters at 1350 Arrow Hwy. in La Verne.

The Interfaith Student Council plans on volunteering in this area soon.

For those interested in lending a helping hand to the community of La Verne, e-mail Tiffany Koval at tiffany.koval@laverne.edu.

Amber J. Guadez can be reached at amber.guadez@laverne.edu.

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