Community comes to students

IRVINE — Hundreds of students at University High School have signed up to volunteer in the community, whether it's helping out at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the American Red Cross, the American Heart Assn or KidWorks in Santa Ana.

At a special fair earlier in the week at the high school, at least a dozen charitable organizations set up booths, giving students a chance to learn more about who they were and how they could lend a helping hand in the surrounding communities. Four hundred students signed up to volunteer in less than 40 minutes.

"We have a lot of students here who want to donate their time and effort, but they just don't know how to go about doing it," said Morgan Evertz, 17, the high school's Associated Student Body project commissioner. "Rather than trying to bring the students out to the community, we brought the groups here. That way, students could see what's out there and what exactly they're interested in."

White T-shirts were distributed for students to wear at the event, dubbed Count Me in for My Community.

"The student body did a really tremendous job," said Steve Smith, development director for KidWorks. "It was really encouraging to meet with so many enthusiastic high schoolers. They were a great example to their peers, and it would be great if other high schools would follow their lead."

ASB President Samir Faza said he loves to give back to the community, where he often tutors children through local libraries or puts in time at nursing homes, where he helps the elderly. He said the fact that the groups turned out at the high school campus was impressive.

"This event is important because a lot of our student body is detached from what's going on outside the classroom," said Faza, 18. "This opens up their eyes to the many needs out there and provides us with the possibilities of giving back to the community. I believe in giving back."

The students also received accolades from Principal John Pehrson, who said the fair was "a great venue."

"It is our hope that it will enhance University High School's relations with these philanthropies and demonstrate how University High students can be good community citizens now and possible leaders in the future philanthropy work," he said.

"This is a valuable experience for anyone anytime in his or her life," said Jan Kerchner, past chair of the Irvine Public School Foundation Board of Trustees. "I commend the high school for hosting such an inspiring event."

Faza said much of it could not have been accomplished without the financial support of Ruby's Restaurant.

"I'd especially like to thank them," he said.

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