DOWNEY – Hundreds of students gave up their Saturday on Jan. 31 to pack approximately 25,000 meals for hungry families in the Philippines still struggling to recover from a deadly 2013 typhoon. The event was coordinated by KIWIN'S, a youth service club sponsored by Kiwanis. The service initiative was inspired by KIWIN’S lieutenant governor Karina Gonzalez and Philippines project chair Liz Manalili, both seniors at Downey High School.
The goal was to help the families in Bohol, Philippines and other towns that were affected by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the largest typhoons in recorded history.
The initiative started when Manalili visited family in the Philippines over the summer and saw what the media was reporting. There were still many families living in poor conditions and many towns still waiting for aid promised by the government.
“It made me sad to see school children struggling to make it through the day with the limited food and resources the schools provided," said Liz. "It made me realize how lucky I am to live in this country.”
Upon her return from the Philippines, Manalili met with Karina Gonzalez and they were both moved to get their fellow KIWIN’S involved in helping the children of the Philippines. Seven different KIWN’S clubs from Los Angeles County got involved in raising funds for this project and were able to raise close to $6,000.
The project is made up of three phases: the first is to feed the children by providing food for school feeding programs; the second is to give children the tools to succeed by sending them tsinelas (sandals), health kits, and school supplies; the third phase is to provide a brighter future by sponsoring a child through a pen-pal program where KIWIN'S write to an elementary school student and give them encouragement.
“It was a great seeing so many students from different schools and backgrounds come together to complete phase one of the project and to know that we made a difference in the lives of children whose lives were affected by natural disasters in the Philippines," said Liz.
The project would not have been accomplished without the help of Griffiths and Sussman Middle school Builders Clubs who are also sponsored by Kiwanis.