Category Archives: School

West Sac Kids Give Back

Local children help homeless with creation of cheer packs

By Michele Townsend

Three years ago, a boy from West Sacramento told his mom that he wanted to do something for the homeless. It was the holiday season, and this very proud mom agreed with her son, and came up with an idea. After speaking with some other mothers, four moms got together and developed a way their kids could help.

Quirina Orozco, one of the founding mothers, explained it as, “We live in a time where it seems that the majority of what kids were being taught is how to get, get, get! If you’re good – you’ll get this… if you do extra chores – you’ll get that.”

This is not what these moms wanted their children to be learning… Especially during the holiday season! The mothers agreed that the idea of giving seemed was becoming a distant memory to some. They decided to combine their efforts, and created “Cheer Packs”.

The plan was for the kids to collect donations of necessity items, assemble them into individual packs, and donate them to local non profit organizations that help the West Sac residents in need. This would not only teach the kids how to give back to their community, but to teach others as well. The first year there was about 12 kids that collected items such as toothbrushes and toothpaste, deodorant, foot powder, sock, gloves, beanies, feminine products, baby wipes, and children’s books. The kids assembled 50 bags, or Cheer Packs.

The word got out, and by this time last year West Sac Kids Give Back program had grown to 150 kids. That group of children collected enough items to assemble 300 bags!! Understand that the adults are overseeing the process, but the kids are doing most of the work. However, all of those involved have helped make somebody’s day a little brighter! This year, the kids collected items for an entire month prior, and got 20 local businesses involved. The goal is the assembly of 900 Cheer Packs that will be donated, for distribution, to the following organization; Collings Teen Center, My Sister’s House and Yolo County Children’s Alliance.

On Sunday, December 17th a few of the kids and their parents, held this year’s final drop off day for the community. Several kids (and their parents) stood in front of Sail Inn Grotto & Bar, while a steady stream of cars, holding good Samaritans, dropped off items. Jeff Henry, a West Sac resident, former Chamber President, and Executive Vice President of Placer County Contractor’s Association & Building Exchange, arrived to drop off his donation of the 1,000 big ziplock baggies that the Cheer Packs will be assembled in. Also included in the long list of Good Samaratin’s was Mayor Cabaldon, and of course Orozco, who became involved with the program last year.

Quirina stated, “As a council member, mother, and member of this great West Sacramento community… I am greatly interested in promoting programs that serve children and provide them opportunities to grow.” But make no mistake, these kids understand that every single donation was as important as the last!

Kathy Senna, a West Sac resident, said as she was dumping a bag of items into the collection boxes, “I was watching Channel 31, getting ready to go to church, and I thought I gotta run and get some stuff for them before church!” As seen above, all ages were involved! Sydney Olsen, age 3, arrived with her daddy, Dan to drop off 2 bags of items. Sydney had a huge smile on her face as she loaded the items into the box that was bigger than she is! And in her very sweet little voice, she could tell you what she was there for, and why.

The assembly party, held on the 17th, will feature Santa, cookies, and a lot of fun! This program welcomes, and encourages, all West Sac children, classrooms, scout troops, etc. to get involved in the program! It is a lot of fun, a great life lesson on the importance of giving, as well as develop an appreciation on ways to give back to your community. I think that it is best summed up in the program’s motto… “Young hands leaving an imprint on their community!”

Westmore Oaks 6th graders built solar suitcases for Kenyan students

By Monica Stark
Sixty students in Ms. Garcia’s science club elective at Westmore Oaks built six solar suitcases and sent two of them off to a school in Kenya—a learning experience that reached beyond the classroom and is helping others in need. The ones staying at home will be used for further solar power education. Garcia attended a two-day professional workshop with 15 Bay Area teachers to learn how to teach solar electricity based on a solar platform called the solar suitcase. Together with her students, Garcia’s class will make the world a brighter place and more hopeful for youth living in regions of energy poverty.

Through building the solar suitcase, a 12 volt dc stand-alone solar system that can power lights, cell phones and small electronic devices, students learned how solar electricity actually works. The program is meant to improve students’ STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) skills and solar energy knowledge while also raising awareness of energy poverty in other parts of the world.

When paired with appropriately sized solar panels and batteries, the solar suitcase is capable of handling up to 200 watts of incoming solar electricity and can light up average sized rooms as well as serve as a charging station. It is an easy-to-use, easy-to-transport complete solar electric system. It is not only a simple technology, but also is extremely valuable to those who live without access to a grid for electricity supply.

As a learning experience, the students had to figure out all the various pieces and purposes of each piece that went into making the solar suitcases. Following engineering practices, the students learned that each piece had a purpose.

Garcia and a previous year’s class worked on solar suitcases, so this year’s students got to see the example of a finished product, which helped them figure out “what goes where” in terms of the various pieces.

Over 1.2 billion people in the world live without access to electricity, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of Central and South America. For students, this means the opportunity to improve their life changes is severely limited by the hours of daylight. Connecting with the outside world is impossible. Their options of kerosene and candlelight are not only expensive sources of light, but also dangers and ineffective. Often students will gather under streetlights and near gas stations to try to study by the light provided. African students must sit for the demanding and difficult national exams to qualify for high school admittance. Without light at night, countless students are disadvantaged in preparation, ruling out further educational opportunities at a young age. Although many carry cell phones, they are unable to charge them regularly which results in a lack of connection to the larger world as well as the security of staying in touch with loved ones.

The students in Ms. Garcia’s science club elective were very motivated by knowing that the solar energy systems they are building will power lights and computers for students whose schools and homes go dark once the sun goes down. The students watched documentaries to help understand the situation in Kenya.

One of the students, Tyler Gabourie said, “it kind of hurt seeing their condition. It made me want to do the project more and see the improvement and that they don’t have to do that anymore. Even if it’s a little bit of a population… it’s more kids that won’t have to walk in the night to go study.”

He said when the class had completed the project and when the light went on, “It felt amazing because at the same time, it worked and it can go to Kenya.”

Garcia continued: “It’s hard for us to even imagine not having electricity ever. We’re not just talking we don’t have electricity because the power went out, there are no lines going to their schools or their homes. So, I really wanted (the class) to grasp that and I feel like for the most part, especially this class, (they) really understood what they were doing to have a major impact on people.”