Students collecting soda tabs

DOWNEY - Forty-five students belonging to Our Lady of Perpetual Help's Interact and Youthact clubs are in the middle of a soda tab collection campaign to benefit the Long Beach Ronald McDonald House and their mission of providing "a comforting home away from home for families with seriously ill children" receiving treatment for cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

The endeavor is a first for the clubs, and the school.

A pop tab is the piece of metal that opens aluminum cans. Since the end of September, when the campaign started, the two Downey Rotary Club-sponsored OLPH extra-curricular clubs, with Interact supplying the energizing force, have engaged all 10 classes at the school which has a total student population of 334 to collect as many soda tabs as possible as these will be converted into cash.

It's hard to imagine that such a campaign will be free of parent or community involvement. Indeed, a parent of a third grader happens to work in a restaurant and what can you expect? To-date, she has been responsible for bringing in a bagful of pop tabs.

The beneficiary is of course the third grade class, which is currently a close second in the race for top collection honors. It's been whispered also that the frontrunner is grade six, while grade seven is going on their second box.

Incentives include a prize consisting of a free non-uniform dress.

With everybody at OLPH involved, the school invites the community to drop off their collected soda tabs at either the front office or the development office. At the end of the day, the collected pop tabs will be recycled and the process will not only help the environment but, equally important, help families in need of such support as well.

The Interact and Youthact clubs will plan, shop for, and help prepare a meal for the Ronald McDonald House residents. At some point, most likely in the meal preparation phase, regular Rotary members will be asked to join in the fun.

The campaign, one of many projects the Interact/Youthact clubs undertake in the course of the school year, ends in April. The day after Veterans Day, for example, Interact put together care packages for U.S. troops serving overseas. Towards the end of November, Interact sponsored a movie night as well as a bake sale both of which earned $500 for the club.

The officers of Interact are: Nathalie Castanos, president; Isabella Rea, vice-president; Paloma Ustquiano, secretary; Alysson Villarino, treasurer; and Cyan Granillo, director. Youthact officers: Nathaniel Mongan, president; Lauryn Fernandez, vice-president; and Isabella Rodriguez, co-president.

OLPH was founded on Sept.13, 1948, starting out with a minuscule staff of three Sisters of Notre Dame. It is described as an educational ministry of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. It reached a peak enrollment of 965 students in 1959.

The rich lessons the eager Interact/Youthact members absorb as they go through their paces cannot be overemphasized. They learn initiative, goal-setting, teamwork, patience, persistence-in addition to leadership and other complementary skills, the joy of achievement, the gaining of self-confidence. These are just the obvious benefits.

Whatever other gains they make are sure to become part of their make-up, their growth, their future.

********** Published: Dec. 26, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 37

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