What better way to start the holiday season than by giving back to those who need it most? Members of Indio's Youth Advisory Council (YAC) volunteered at the Narrow Door’s annual Coachella Valley Christmas Store in December, providing gifts to needy families across the Coachella Valley. Families were pre-selected thanks to the support of all three local school districts. During this event, each family received a gift for each of their children and a food box with all the holiday trimmings.
“The experience of being able to work at the Christmas Store made me feel emotional, blessed, and joyful," said YAC member and Indio High School freshman, Frida Arriaga. "I always feel happy when I help someone else and having the opportunity to help others also reminds me about the things I am grateful for. It was an amazing experience and I really recommend volunteering at the Christmas Store to everyone!”
Due to COVID-19 families weren’t able to come in and take a picture with Santa and ‘shop’ at the Christmas Store like in past. Fortunately YAC members stepped up to the challenge. The YAC elves personally picked out gifts for children ages 14 to 18, based on information taken during registration. They packed all gifts, which even included shoes, so they could be delivered during a drive-thru pick-up type event.
Teen Center Community Program Administrator, Rosalva Campos, talked about the importance of giving back to a community with fewer resources. “Reading Christmas lists with kids asking for ‘their own blanket’ as their Christmas gift reminded me of the tremendous need out there.”
YAC member Kailey Cisneros, a freshman at Indio High, mentioned being happy to “have had the opportunity to help wrap Christmas gifts for those parents that can’t afford to buy their children a Christmas gift.” She later added that this act of kindness, “put a smile on a kid’s face this year for Christmas.”
When talking about bringing smiles and joy this time of year, YAC Senior from La Quinta High, Lilyana Garcia also said it made her “happy knowing that she’s making someone smile,” during her time volunteering with the other YAC members.
YAC Indio High School sophomore, Miabella Cancino, explained “the Christmas Store was a great experience. It’s the season of giving and this way is a great way to show it.” She went on to say that volunteering brought her a learning experience. “Because it taught me not to take anything for granted."
The Indio Youth Advisory Council is composed of select high school students that reside in the City of Indio. YAC is, in essence, the voice of the youth of the City of Indio. They sit alongside City Council Members on the dais, represent the city at various community events like this year’s Christmas Store.