From passion to action

A pandemic couldn’t stop these Cougars from giving their best to the community.

Ryan Lenney
Lenney proudly exhibits the products of his donation campaign.

Sophia Sandhu, Copy Editor

Capo has never been short of volunteers; we know this as a fact. They have always been there to lend a helping hand in times of need, and now, they have gone above and beyond. Our very own Cougars have spent their free time giving back rather than giving in to the lure of laziness from quarantine. Despite the challenge of starting a volunteer campaign during a pandemic, sophomores Kendall Kay and Emily Freitas decided that now was a better time than ever to give back to the community. 

“The pandemic is causing a lot of economic damage, and I took into consideration all the people who weren’t getting the support they needed,” Kay presented. “It isn’t just the medical industry that needs help. Lots of different people need extra support during this time.” 

Kay and Freitas were put in a challenging situation when social distancing mandates were put in place, making it difficult to find a way to volunteer. Nonetheless, they took matters into their own hands and came up with the idea of a contactless canned food drive over the summer.

“We set up a table and collected over the weekends. At the end of the weekend, we delivered the cans to drop off locations throughout Orange County,” Freitas explained. 

Together these lovely ladies did their part to give back to our community and were able to have fun and meet new people at the same time, which is the very essence of volunteerism. 

In addition to performing local community service, some students ventured beyond our borders to give back to the global community as well. Senior Nadia Sunico used the pandemic as an opportunity to fulfill a long-desired goal of starting her own campaign to help children in the Philippines. 

“When I was younger, I traveled to the Philippines and was exposed to a lot of less fortunate children. I saw that many schools lacked resources, and children couldn’t go to school as a result,” Sunico recollected. 

Her experience as a young child stayed with her for many years. She had the inspiration and goal; all she needed was the time. 

“It made me realize how privileged I am, and it made me even more determined than ever to combat the educational barriers so many children have to face,” Sunico emphasized.

Once quarantine was set in place, much like Kay and Freitas, Sunico took advantage of the opportunity and created her charity, For Them. For Them is a charity that Sunico started back in August of this year. Every Saturday, for one to two hours, Sunico picks up books from drop-off locations and homes to donate to schools in the Philippines. In just under two months, she has already collected nearly 600 books for pre-K to high school level students. 

“My favorite part of this whole thing is seeing all the books I have collected after every Saturday pick up, but I am most excited for when I am finally able to ship my books out,” Sunico beamed. 

While it may be surprising to hear, Sunico isn’t the only one giving back to the global community. Senior Ryan Lenney made use of his time repairing surfboards to donate to the Philippines. 

“I’ve been shaping and fixing surfboards for a few years now, and it’s something I really enjoy. Almost half a year ago, I messed up my knee pretty bad and I haven’t been able to get back in the water since. After my injury, boards started piling up in my garage, so I decided to find a good place to donate them,” Lenney illustrated. 

After some research, Lenney was able to find an organization that runs surf camps in the Philippines that would take his boards, and all it took to get connected was a single email. With a plan in action and some old surfboards in his garage, he set about his mission.

“I pick up donated boards from all around Southern California, then take them back to my solar powered shed in my backyard to get them patched up using fiberglass and epoxy,” Lenney elaborated.

While Lenney loves the fact that he can do what he is passionate about to make a difference, it doesn’t hurt that he can also enjoy the California sun and listen to music at the same time. However, this is an important point to remember: When you truly enjoy what you are doing, great change will follow.