BSA delivers gifts of warmth, kindness to community during pandemic

Co-Sponsor Jade Arntzen (left) and co-President Tongaimambo Jakachira collect donations for the Bike Bald Group Toy Drive in December. “I didn’t think [the students] were expecting to have that many gifts, and I think they were very happy that they could be a part of that,” Artnzen said. Photo courtesy of Jade Arntzen.

During difficult COVID times where families may feel isolated or unmotivated, receiving gifts for Christmas can help lift spirits up. However with busy schedules, social distancing, financial issues, and more, it can be difficult to have holiday spirit. 

Earlier this winter, the Black Student Alliance, or BSA, successfully conducted a toy drive for the Bike Bald Group of Oswego, a charity group that helps support local families affected by cancer. 

Not only did the donations help the families, the students involved in the toy drive were also happy with the results.

“I feel pretty good about it. I’m giving back to the community and people who necessarily didn’t have enough to give presents for Christmas,” senior and co-President Tongaimambo Jakachira said.

The idea of the toy drive came from Jade Arntzen. She and Spanish teacher Paisley Suarez are the co-sponsors, meaning they oversee and help support the organization.

Arntzen presented the idea to the students and the organization helped with the donation of the gifts. She and Jakachira helped drop off the gifts to families all around the local area.

“I just didn’t know it would be that big. And then we ended up with over 80 items. And it was amazing,” Arntzen said. “It went extremely well. I was very, very satisfied and very, very grateful that we got that done.”

Co-President and senior Nyla Rayford said that she couldn’t help deliver the gifts, but she was very happy with the outcome.

“Sometimes there’s kids out there that don’t have the same support as other people do. So this is a good way to give back to the community,” Rayford said. “There’s a club that actually cares. There’s people that actually want to help their community more than [themselves].”

Although the idea of the Toy Drive was Co-Sponsor Arntzen’s, the club is a student led organization. She explains that there are 5 committees and the students themselves choose which they want to head so they are able to play to their strengths. 

“It’s student led, student driven,” Arnzten said. “Sponsors are there just to support, they’re just there to support them and look for whatever they need, but it’s their club. It’s their decisions, their choices. They run everything.”

Arnzten and Suarez are new to BSA this year but have shown that they committed to helping the students achieve their goals.

“I want them to feel that their opinions matter, that they’re there. The issues they face, matter to us, to school personnel,” Suarez said. “I want to motivate students, I want to encourage them and maybe we can discover the tools together to get them to the place where they’re successful, and they feel empowered.”

In the past, the BSA has conducted fundraisers, visited colleges, worked with universities in order to provide scholarships, and more. The club continues to look for more ways to help the community and school environment.  

Mariel Herrera is a staff writer for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl

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