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San Joaquin Valley College Blog

SJVC Ontario’s Lions Branch Club helps the Easter Bunny out

April 30, 2019

SJVC Ontario Easter BunnyThe 20-member Lions Branch Club at SJVC’s Ontario campus thought they might don bunny ears this year and give a few students treat-filled Easter baskets to take home to delight their appreciative children. “One of our club members came up with the idea and everyone ran with it,” says Debi Nichols, Business Administration program  instructor and the club’s co-faculty advisor, with Andrea Busby, Clinical Medical Assisting instructor.

Club members planned and then launched a couple of fundraisers that would give them the funds to buy games, toys, kites, frisbees, stuffed animals and candy – lots of candy – to fill decorative baskets. “Marion Castro (Business Administration student) stepped up as chairperson of the committee and Johnna Oso (Clinical Medical Assisting student) was instrumental in doing the shopping and manning the decorating tables,” says Debi. “They provided great leadership and support for this effort.”

“It is important to help those in need,” says Marion. “It is a good feeling to be able to give back and volunteer.”

Someone came up with the brilliant idea to sell Krispy Kreme donuts on campus to generate money for the baskets and treats. Krispy Kreme participates in a lot of fundraisers and, using a corporate ID number, SJVC was able to buy 50 dozen donuts at a nice discount. During the two-day sale, every donut found a grateful student who thought that a dollar donut would give them just the sugar buzz they needed for their next class.

The club raised $300 – enough to fill 20 Easter Baskets with kid-friendly treats.

Simultaneous to fundraising efforts, Dean of Student Services Henry Madrid sent email blasts to all students, inviting them to sign up to receive baskets for their young children. Participation was kept confidential and all who signed up were given the basket they requested.

“Everyone goes through hard times, and we wanted our students to know that, if they were going through a tough time, we wanted to help,” says Debi. “No one would be turned away, and we would raise enough money to fill however many baskets were needed.”

In past years, the campus Lions Branch Club has participated in many community service fundraisers and volunteer work. “We had a pajama drive for Child Protective Services that provided pajamas for newborns to 18 year olds,” says Debi. “Students, staff and faculty were able to donate more than 300 pairs of pajamas. We were so excited.”

The Ontario campus club has also participated in Ontario’s corporate Lions Club’s Vision Clinic that provides eye exams, glasses and diagnoses, as well as referrals to physicians for surgeries. “Our club students volunteer to work at the clinic for a day or distribute fliers at senior centers, food banks or laundromats to help low-income people,” says Debi.

“Membership (club) has definitely given me a voice,” says Johnna Oso. “I used to be the shy pupil in a social setting, but now I’m able to stand up for the people who don’t have a voice and do what little part I can to help the community.”

SJVC has always encouraged students in all programs to contribute to their local communities through volunteerism. “Service isn’t dictated by one’s income or one’s age or how much time they have,” says Debi. “Some people think that if they don’t have a lot themselves, they can’t give. But even a couple of hours on a Saturday will feel so good.”

Volunteerism also strengthens communication and other skills that enhance job performance. “The Lions Branch Club has helped me improve on my planning and organizing skills, as well as working with a team,” says Stephanie Leyva, Business Administration student.

It is a simple but powerful concept. “It’s about giving back,” says Debi. “It’s looking out there and asking, ‘Who can I help? Where can I help?’”

Those are familiar questions Lions Branch Club members ask themselves frequently. And their answers often find grateful recipients of their generous spirits.

Important information about the educational debt, earnings and completion rates of students who attended SJVC can be found here.