NORWALK - Couches and tables in the Student Activities office were completely buried in mountains of canned soup, snacks and instant noodles the week before Thanksgiving this year.The Annual ASCC-sponsored Student Activities Office Food Drive competition has been a tradition at Cerritos College for more than 20 years. The food was donated to the Norwalk City Council's Holiday Food Basket Program to help less fortunate families in the Norwalk area. More than 36,000 non-perishable food items were brought in by campus clubs and individuals from the community. Members of the City of Norwalk were stunned when they saw the "wall" in the Student Activities office. "I'm seeing more donations today than any previous years," said Tak Hamabata, director of Social Services at the City of Norwalk. "These will get us through early next year, which means we can help families in need have a happy holiday season." With the economy still in a slump and unemployment in double digits, Hamabata said he sees many middle-class families and individuals who have never needed assistance before applying for help this year. "Considering it's the toughest time for everybody, Cerritos College students really stepped up and collected an amazing amount of donations," said Gordon Stefenhagen, vice mayor of Norwalk, who started the City of Norwalk Food Basket Program over 20 years ago. "Cerritos College students sure are giving back to their community, and we truly appreciate it." Celena Murillo, president of the Court Reporting Club, called and visited local grocers and collected over 7,000 food items. "I am grateful for all the local grocers who willingly helped us," said Murillo. "But a can which individuals donate from their pantry really does count." "Personally, I am in awe of the generosity I have seen this year in donations. What a refreshing experience," said Mickey England, Court Reporting Club advisor, who collected upwards of 4,000 food items. "Thank you for this opportunity to give back. It has been a joy!" Food is not the only thing being donated at Cerritos College. The Follett Bookstore participated in the 9th Annual City of Norwalk Angel Tree Project. The bookstore has participated in the effort since the project's inception, according to Paul Flovick, the Follet Bookstore's store manager. Working with the City of Norwalk Social Service Center, the campus bookstore hangs laminated angel ornaments on a Christmas tree. Each angel has the name, age, sex and clothing size of a local needy child. The donor can pick which child they would like to buy for, and then return a wrapped gift back to the bookstore. "This year we received about 25 angels," said Flovick, adding that it took a little longer than before to have all of the angels adopted this year, probably due to the economy. "But they all eventually found a donator." "It's a wonderful opportunity for everyone on campus to reach out to local kids in need," said Flovick. "It's nice in these economic times that our students have shown their holiday spirit and stepped up at a record pace at this year's food drive," said Student Activities Director Holly Bogdanovich. "We are proud of the Cerritos College students who are giving back to their community. Their donations truly make a difference."
********** Published: December 25, 2009 - Volume 8 - Issue 35