Clubs celebrate holiday season

With a chill in the air and rain in the sky, it feels like the holiday season more than ever, and Cal State Long Beach student organizations are gearing up for the occasion. There are almost two dozen active religious groups on campus and many use the holiday season to reach out to the community.

The Catholic Newman Club hosted a dance Nov. 7 to raise funds for an organization called Stand Up For Kids. The online mission statement for Stand Up For Kids is “to help homeless and street kids.” The organization provides resources and information to help homeless children and prevent others from becoming homeless.

Students and members of the Long Beach community made cash donations and gave away toys and clothes at the event. Member Natasha Ginyard was grateful for the turnout.

“Someone came by with a car full of stuff,” Ginyard said. “He gave sweaters and socks. The man just came up and said, ‘Here you go.'”

Alyssa Maddock, also a member of the Catholic Newman Club, said many people donated school supplies. The Catholic Newman Club also organized the warehouse that Stand Up For Kids used to process all donations, and worked with a Long Beach shelter. Club members donated boxed meals to local churches that provide food for needy families during the holiday season.

Beach Hillel, a Jewish organization on campus, hosted a menorah decorating competition for Hanukkah.

“All students were encouraged to participate,” member Rachel Kaplan said. “The top five winners will have their menorahs taken to the Alpert Jewish Community Center, where the winner has a chance to win a gift certificate to Performance Plus Tire and Automotive.”

Beach Hillel is also hosting a Hanukkah party on Sunday, open to all Jewish students in the Long Beach community. There will be food, drinks and fun, Kaplan said. There will also be a lighting ceremony and a dreidel game.

Kaplan added that the group is not doing as much this year because Hanukkah falls during finals week.

“It would just be too much to have stuff right now,” Kaplan said.

Richard Saenz, president of Latino-based religious group Destino, and Ryan Klement, president of Campus Crusade for Christ, joined up with a rescue mission on Sunday to serve food and help with donations.

At the end of the month the two Christian organizations also plan to attend the San Diego Winter Conference.

“Students from campuses in California, Las Vegas and Arizona all come together and we witness our faith,” Saenz said. “We go to the poorest areas, giving food and showing love in the community.”

Saenz said it is important to build on community, especially during the holiday season. The goal of Destino is to reach the large number of Spanish speakers in Southern California.

“We talk in Spanglish and sing in Spanish,” he said. “We are trying to encourage the Latino community.”

Saenz said it doesn’t matter if people label themselves or decide to be label-free; the important part is to spread whatever positivity, love, resources and joy they have to everyone they come across.

He said, “We’re really here to just love. No man can show us or explain that power to us.” 


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