Yonsei Giving Back

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Changing Our Community Giving Circle members (from left): Ashley Ishigo, Maya Okamoto, Kevin Doi and Eric Komatsu. Not pictured: Kelly Ouye and Lindsay Kobayashi.

Changing Our Community Giving Circle members (from left): Ashley Ishigo, Maya Okamoto, Kevin Doi and Eric Komatsu. Not pictured: Kelly Ouye and Lindsay Kobayashi.

As the holiday season approaches, many people are out buying gifts and preparing to celebrate with family and friends. Family get-togethers are the norm as we feast on delicious food and exchange gifts.

However, we hear stories of families that are unable to celebrate the holidays for a variety of reasons, such as illness, unemployment, divorce, and abandonment.

Changing Our Community (COC), a Yonsei giving circle, has taken this issue head-on. On Dec. 8, COC held a gift drive for these children. Eric Komatsu, Kevin Doi, Ashley Ishigo, Kelly Ouye, Lindsay Kobayashi and Maya Okamoto coordinated the gift donations from their friends and family members.

COC was able to collect approximately 80 gifts and monetary donations, which were presented to Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC) at a luncheon sponsored by Sansei Legacy of Southern California, another giving circle.

During this event, Chris Aihara of the Little Tokyo Community Council spoke about the history of the Japanese American community and how important it is to stay connected with it.

Former Nisei Week Queen and vocalist Erika Olsen sang for the group and put everyone in a festive mood.

Tom Sogi and Nanacy Alcarez from LTSC thanked all the participants and expressed the importance of the gift drive for many needy families.

Noelle Ito, representative from the not-for-profit Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP) was in attendance. “It is great to see these two AAPIP giving circles working together,” she said. “AAPIP is educating other AAPIP giving circles throughout the country to collaborate more with each other for better outcomes.”

If you are interested in starting your own giving circle, contact Ito at [email protected]

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