Making Positive Changes

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High school group gathers toys for affordable housing community.

Front row, from left: Garrett Sasaki, Janelle Doi, Jordyn Morimoto, Kelsey Tochihara, Kyla Kikkawa, Aidan Kosaka. Back row, from left: Jerry Nasu, John Nakaki, Sheldon Kuwahara, Lance Hama, Danny Haramoto, Gene Kanamori. Not pictured: Kirk Tanioka, Mark Doi, Scott Hiji.

For the fourth consecutive year, a high school student group called Changes in the Community (CiTC) organized a successful holiday toy drive for families living in one of Little Tokyo Service Center’s affordable housing communities.

The students collected hundreds of toys, games and gift cards and distributed them to young residents of Angelina Apartments at an annual holiday party. Angelina Apartments is located in the Temple Beaudry area of Echo Park.

CiTC, which is currently composed of six service-oriented 9th– and 10th-graders, is part of a national giving network supported by Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy (AAPIP).

“Seeing the kids’ excitement when they got their presents made me realize it’s better to give than receive,” said Kelsey Tochihara, a CiTC member and sophomore at Redondo Union High School.

Members of CiTC make a yearlong commitment to building relationships with the youth at Angelina Apartments. This year, CiTC organized a basketball clinic for young residents and sponsored a back to school event to share school supplies.

CiTC started planning for the holiday gift drive early last summer and then began soliciting donations from generous supporters. With the help of their parents and the Sansei Legacy Giving Circle, the high school group secured a significant toy donation from toy manufacturing and wholesale company Megatoys.

“We appreciate the efforts of these young leaders,” said LTSC Executive Director Dean Matsubayashi. “They are great role models and helped brighten the holidays for many Angelina residents.”

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