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Cardozo School Club Collects Donations For Child Refugees
Rocio Aguiniga, left, Angel Aldaz, and Leopoldo Manzo help lead the charge to collect as many items for refugees around the globe as possible at Cardozo Middle School during the past three weeks. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

The California Junior Scholarship Federation (CJSF) club organized a collection at Cardozo Middle School for the past three weeks for Operation Refugee Child (ORC).

The entire school stepped up during the three weeks and donated items like baby clothes, crayons, bottles, backpacks, toys, shampoo, lotion, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, and basic necessities.

CJSF Advisors Maggie Chudoba and Norma Ramirez helped the CJSF club members organize the collection; however, the students were in charge of the details and specifics of Operation Refugee which they also called Mission of Hope.

Eighth graders Angel Aldaz and Rocio Aguiniga along with seventh grader Leopoldo Manzo took the lead on the collection project, placing a box in each eighth grade class where students could drop in whatever they would like to contribute.

“We are helping the refugees from Afghanistan, Syria, and many other locations because of the ongoing war over there and we are trying to help those that have left everything behind so we are donating these things to help them,” said Aldaz. “I was doing some research about it and they have lost loved ones just crossing the water.”

Along with morning announcements about the collection efforts for the CJSF, some teachers offered homework passes and bonus credits to encourage students to donate. There were even some class competitions to encourage donations. Christine Wallen’s sixth grade class won the class competition, with the students to receive ice pops and Wallen will receive a gift card.

“It is about helping refugees that don’t really have anything and we wanted to help them not just because it will help us later on but because what we have is too much and what they have is not even a little,” said Manzo. “We have collected a lot of random things.”

The list of items requested were hairbrushes, deodorant, lotion, baby shampoo, hand sanitizer, baby hats, diapers, toy cars, dolls, hard candies, lip balm, plush toys, onesies, sunblock, mosquito spray, crayons, coloring books, drawing pads, Frisbee, or any typical item for daily use.

“We are asking for regular things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, clothes, shoes or something to give comfort like toys to give kids,” Aguiniga said.

According to the website,, their mission is to distribute backpacks with basic necessities to bring comfort, health, safety and warmth to refugee children and families who have left everything behind. Through an international network of volunteers and local NGOs in the US, Middle East and Europe, they assemble and distribute backpacks to refugee children and families fleeing violence and war. In 2016, ORC will distribute basic necessities and at least 10,000 backpacks to refugee children.

“The organization is fabulous,” added Chudoba. “They are based here in California and I thought what a great opportunity for our organization to get involved with.”

With a warehouse in Orange County the ORC receives all kinds of donations and they place them in backpacks based on gender and for a mom and a baby. The volunteers will travel to areas like Greece and Turkey, visit a camp and hand deliver the backpacks to the refugees.

“I am speechless at how much the school and the parents and the students contributed to the cause,” said Chudoba. “There were parents that brought in bags of brand new clothes from Kohl’s, to donate. I still have parents coming up to me asking if they can still bring in items.

“I say absolutely bring in the items whenever you can.”

The items collected will not be shipped off immediately. Although the students only held the collection for the past three weeks there are donations accepted year round on the ORC website.

“They even have an Amazon account that you can go ahead and just purchase things and it will get directly mailed to them,” said Chudoba.

“I think you should donate because you don’t need everything in your house,” added Aldaz. “And some things you don’t use anymore so you might as well give it away to someone that will use it.”