When pondering what to pen for my last message of 2016, I thought about the things that matter the most – health, family, having a roof over our head, food on our table, clothes on our backs and living in a safe and clean community. It is so easy to take all these things for granted – and I admit I often do. Millions of families – many in our own community – struggle to make ends meet every day and don’t have these necessities. That’s why I think it’s important, especially during the holidays, to count our blessings and give back to those in need.
In Aliso Viejo, the opportunities for doing just that are plentiful. You can donate canned goods and non-perishable food items for South County Outreach at City Hall. This organization strives to prevent hunger and homelessness in the area, providing food and resources for thousands of families every year.
Also in the lobby at City Hall is a bin for the Aliso Viejo Boys & Girls Club’s Operation Holiday Homework. This incentives-based program was created for less-fortunate children and rewards them for focusing on education first. The kids then cash in their homework dollars for gifts to give their parents and siblings. You can make a difference by dropping off new, unwrapped gifts for all ages through December 6th.
Another great effort underway in our community is at the Aliso Viejo Aquatic Center. There, Premier Aquatics swim instructors have been collecting canned food for the Laguna Food Pantry. In fact, they recently took part in Aliso CrossFit’s “Hike For Hunger” to benefit the pantry. This food pantry serves more than 300 low-income South County families a week. You can help by donating canned food items at our Aquatic Center through the end of this month.
Tribeca Salon is also collecting unwrapped Christmas gifts for the residents of the Village of Hope in Tustin. Drop of unwrapped gifts to the salon at 6 Journey by December 16th.
Of course, our local firefighters are once again collecting toys and sports equipment for children and teens through the Spark of Love Toy Drive. Deliver unwrapped toys and new sports equipment to the station at 57 Journey through December 24th.
During the holidays and throughout the year, you can give the gift of your time by volunteering for different organizations. (Click here to find out more.)
All the causes I mentioned depend on people like us to thrive. They cannot help others without people helping them. Think about that. It reminds me of a great quote by an actor who once said: “At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you have accomplished …it’s about who you’ve lifted up, who you’ve made better. It’s about what you have given back.”
Indeed. Let’s all strive to give back. Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays.
Mayor Mike Munzing