Dozens of Firebaugh High School students – clad in Santa Claus caps -- will deliver toys and food to area homeless shelters this month, part of philanthropic efforts by the campus Helping Hands Club that generated more than 1,000 gift baskets for the homeless at Thanksgiving.
Helping Hands became an official club at Firebaugh two years ago, but has operated unofficially through the school’s network for nearly two decades. About 150 students meet twice per month on the high school campus to plan volunteer opportunities.
“Helping Hands is a club for anyone interested in creating a better world around them,” Firebaugh High School teacher and club organizer Jeff Ballinger said. “Whether we’re raising money for families in need or spending quality time with hospital patients, our students receive rewarding experiences that make them better people and students.”
Ballinger said District support has been critical in helping the club become a staple of Lynwood. Staff members, students from surrounding schools and alumni often lend their support during community outings.
During Thanksgiving, the group collected food donations and personal hygiene items for gift baskets delivered to Midnight Mission and homeless in the nearby Los Angeles area.
The club also is known to spontaneously spring into action. When a Firebaugh club member recently learned a classmate was homeless, Helping Hands raised $900 and clothing for the student and his family.
“Helping Hands embodies the character we hope to instill in all of our students at Lynwood Unified,” LUSD Superintendent Gudiel R. Crosthwaite said. “I’m proud of our Firebaugh students who are volunteering their time and energy to inspire those around them.”