By Mackenzie Myers, student at Mexico High School and member of Oswego County Youth Advisory Council
As we celebrate the holiday season at home with our families, let us take time to remember those who are less fortunate. The Oswego County Youth Advisory Council (YAC) recently shared the Christmas spirit with youth in Colombia, South America. The local group took part in Project Smiles, a mission aimed at bringing happiness to young girls left homeless in the war-torn county.
The goal is to help girls from the Judith Jaramillo Home, which was adopted last year by a group of students led by Evelyn Bliss from the Central Square High School. Many of these girls have been abandoned by their parents due to financial stress. They reside at the home and are sent to different public schools throughout the city, hoping to someday get their high school diploma.
The members of YAC used their leadership skills to organize drives in their schools for items such as: new clothing and shoes, stuffed animals, music CDs and soaps and perfumes. Being high school students, they know what is Ã¢â‚¬ËœinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ this season and have now provided these girls with the very same things that put smiles on their own faces.
Oscar Vergara, a Project Smiles supporter and volunteer, plans to fly to Colombia on Christmas Eve to receive these gifts which he had shipped from New York City. He rented a truck to deliver them to the girls personally and hopes to come back with a video diary of the journey.
The members of YAC express their sincere appreciation to Vergara for his help with Project Smiles. He very generously devotes his time to help those less fortunate and, without him, this project would not have been possible.
The youth group also brought holiday joy to local students through the SantaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Helpers Program. Pre-school children at Oswego County BOCES and kindergarten students at Kingsford Park Elementary and Leighton Elementary Schools in Oswego all received letters and treats from the YAC members. The group has participated in this program for several years and the children really love it.
The Oswego County YAC is a non-profit community action group made up of student representatives from nine school districts throughout the county. The group works closely with the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau through their advisor, Brian Chetney, county youth coordinator for the bureau.
All of us here at the Oswego County YAC want to thank you for your support throughout the year and wish you a very happy holiday season. Please remember that together we can make a difference, one person at a time, one day at a time.
For more information about the Oswego County YAC, call the Oswego City-County Youth Bureau at 349-3451 or 1-800-596-3200, ext 3451 or e-mail [email protected]