Hope Brigade Club gets students involved in the community


Anna Wilkinson

Cindy Chen, senior and club president, and Nathan Chutzher, senior and club vice president, welcome new members to the team and start discussing plans for the future.

With over 300 toys donated to the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital, the Hope Brigade Club gets ready for another jam-packed year, especially with the upcoming holiday season. 

The president of the club, Cindy Chen, started this club to honor her mother. It went from a simple idea to a diverse group of students gathering to support one fantastic cause.

For the first year of this club, there were only 30 members, but over the past four years, it has grown to around 80. This wouldn’t be possible without Chen’s dedication to bringing attention to the topic. The club’s main focus is the Holiday Toy Drive, but they have done many other projects, including making 173 helping care kits for the Stanford Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital.

Chen isn’t just the president of the club, but she is also a top orchestra student. In middle school, Chen won the Maestro Award at the Anaheim Heritage Festival.  

Even with her crazy schedule, Chen still finds time to create fun and engaging activities for the members of the club. In the last meeting, Chen and Vice President Nathan Chutzher, a senior, handed out sticky notes for everyone to write a positive message on. These sticky notes were formed into a pink ribbon that will be given to a nearby hospital. Some of the sticky notes read “have a great day,” while others said, “you can get through this” or “you are beautiful.” In between collecting the sticky notes and talking to club members, Chutzher stopped to talk about the club’s plans for this year.

“I’ve been in this club since the beginning, so I want to contribute more. I really want to do a new project that we haven’t done yet because even though the toy drive is our main thing and it works really well, I want to find new ways to help,” Chutzher said.

Chen starts the meeting off by asking how everyone’s weekend was and checking in on them. She continues to encourage members to partake in the activities Carlmont’s ASB is doing since it is October, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

During the meeting, Chutzher went over various facts about breast cancer and Chen shared that as of January 2019, there are more than 3.1 million women with a history of breast cancer in the United States. Even though there is no planned schedule for October, the club prepares for big, upcoming projects.

“I hope to teach students different perspectives on life and how to respect those perspectives. And I want the students to be able to find joy from working towards a goal that will help others,” Chen said.

This year will be the last year with Chen and Chutzher as leaders of the club. Both hope to continue their legacy, so discussion of a possible new leader of the club is brewing. Vienna Huang, a junior, is a top contender. Huang has her own club, Grey Matters, that next year she can use to continue on the Hope Brigade Club’s traditions, such as the Toy Drive.

I think it’s important to enforce this topic not only in our schools but in our community as well”

— Camran Hitchcock

“This club is such a great way to meet new people with a similar goal of spreading awareness, regardless of whether or not you are in the same grade,” Huang said.

A truly amazing part of this club is the community. It is filled with people who want to help others, and its convivial environment allows members to unwind and focus on the organizations they contribute to.

Even though the club is about finding ways to help others, the backbone is the passion that the students pour into every project. 

“I realized that cancer is so common in our society nowadays, and I think it’s important to learn about it and to help spread awareness. I think it’s important to enforce this topic not only in our schools but in our community as well,” said Camran Hitchcock, a junior.

If you are not a student or apart of the club, there are many ways to help this cause, such as researching online to learn more about the topic, helping donate, or checking out the club’s Instagram to show support.

Photo by Cindy Chen