EPIC | Jan. 14, 2013 | Spotlight

Bright eyes, big smiles permeate EPIC’s 2012 Toy and Food Drive

After scanning with wide-eyes and excitement across the room at the piles of toy, 12-year-old Calixte Beohourou beamed and said, “Now everyone in the family can have a present.”

Beohourou is one of 218 children, along with 122 adults, who benefitted from Cal State L.A.’s Educational Participation in the Communities (EPIC) 2012 Toy and Food Drive.

Pictured: EPIC team delivers gifts to the Beohourou family.

EPIC team provides holiday gifts to the Beohourou family.

Pictured: EPIC student volunteers pick up toys and food collected from various offices and departments on campus.

EPIC student volunteers pick up toys and food collected from various offices and departments on campus.

Through the generous contributions of CSULA staff, faculty and students, more than $26,000 worth of toys and food brightened the holiday season for more than 70 low-income families in the cities of Commerce, El Monte and Los Angeles.

“When Calixte walked into the agency to pick up the gift box with her mom,” said Anh Hong, EPIC community service learning coordinator, “her eyes lit up as she saw all the toys that she was getting from EPIC. She was very happy and thankful for all the gifts that she received. Calixte’s mom really appreciated getting the gift box because it will really help her family.”

The toy and food collection began in November when more than 90 drop-boxes were strategically placed in departments and offices throughout campus.

University Development staff member Jean Beard-Smith was ready to fill the donation box.

She said, “I know some families can’t afford to buy gifts for their kids, so I want to help give some children at least one present for Christmas.”

Even some CSULA alums returned to campus to support the EPIC drive.

CSULA alumna Marcela Guzman, who delivered a big donation of toys to EPIC, shared that when she was a kid her family was poor, and they would receive Christmas donations.

“Now that we are doing better, we wanted to give something back,” Guzman said. “We are thankful for what we have and wanted to help somebody else now.”

During the second week of December, about 100 “Santa’s elves” from various student clubs and organizations helped to collect and sort the toys and food to prepare for delivery.

CSULA student Octavio Reyes, who was part of the team to deliver the gifts, volunteered because he wants to be able to contribute to his community.

“It always feels good to give,” he said.

Each year, a group of families are selected for the donations through consultation with the following non-profit community agencies: Asian Youth Center, East Los Angeles Women’s Center, Foundation for Early Childhood, International Institute of Los Angeles, Jeffrey Foundation, Jenesse Center, Inc., Los Angeles Boys and Girls Club, Maravilla Foundation, Salazar Park Recreational Center, Search To Involve Pilipino Americans, Sheenway School and Culture Center, Southern California Indian Center, St. Francis Center, and United American Indian Involvement, Inc.

“These agencies are always pleased to receive donations from our campus,” said Hong. “Every single donation makes a difference especially for all the children, just like Calixte.”

Michelle Freridge of the Asian Youth Center thanked CSULA for the donation of five boxes of food and toys.

“Your support helps us to continue to improve the quality of our services to youth and families,” she said.

Picture of EPIC student volunteers sing Christmas carols thoughout campus to promote the EPIC Toy and Food Drive.
EPIC student volunteers sing Christmas carols throughout campus to promote the EPIC Toy and Food Drive.

View short video clip of CSULA’s “Santa’s elves” busy at work: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B1q3a0xxxsA.

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