The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Hope Brigade Club

December 9, 2018

“Our goal is to bring awareness to cancer through giving back to our community,” said Cindy Chen, president of Hope Brigade Club. The club meets on the second and fourth Friday of every month in room D7.

Hope Brigade Club prepares for upcoming projects


Jessica Klein

Cindy Chen, the club president, gives a presentation to the members of Hope Brigade Club in room D7.

Over 15,000 children are diagnosed with cancer every year, and the Hope Brigade Club is dedicated to reaching out and helping as many of those patients as possible.

Every Friday, students come to room D7 for relaxing games and rewarding opportunities to help cancer patients in need. Members play trivia games or discuss ways to donate their time. The club has two major projects annually: organizing a winter holiday toy drive and making activity kits to send to cancer patients in local hospitals.

“For the activity kits last year, we made friendship bracelets, and we had these little care packages that we gave to the children’s hospital,” said Vienna Huang, a sophomore.

These packages will be made later in the year, sometime during the second semester, and have been made every year since the club began. The kits’ goal is to bring cheer to cancer patients and their families and have the potential to make an impact by giving them both encouragement and an interactive distraction.

“The activity kits are for the Stanford Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Stanford says that the purpose of these kits is for kids waiting for treatment and for the kids’ family members that are waiting with them,” said Cindy Chen, a junior and club president.

The club members will work to make around 60-70 kits each year and are always striving to make more and do better. The activity kits include mostly coloring books, stickers, crayons, or friendship bracelets.

“The kits are really helpful for the kids. They are going out to kids that may not have that much money since their parents are spending so much on their treatment,” said Olga Pyalling, a junior.

These activity kits would not be possible without the club’s dedicated members who are constantly looking for ways to help out and participate. Students are drawn to the club because they want to help cancer patients and spread awareness.

“Usually I help out with toy drives and try to learn how to show people the importance of cancer research,” Pyalling said.

Other club members help with making the gifts and materials that will be sent to the hospitals.

“We try to help as many people as possible,” said Andrey Zaytsev, a junior. “For the activity kits, our main job is [that] we have to use the materials to put the kits together.”

Aside from the activity kits and toy drive, the club is also planning on making hats out of old T-shirts for the patients. They have never done this before but are excited to try it out.

“I got this idea from a video by the American Cancer Society. There was a lady that used an old and large T-shirt, [and] she would cut off the tops of them, cut it in half, and then sew them into hats,” Chen said.

Chen has not yet decided on how many hats to make, but she wants to have as many as possible to donate to various hospitals. The purpose of the hats are for patients that have lost their hair from chemotherapy, who can use the hats as a decorative way to cover their heads.

The club works tirelessly to help as many cancer patients as they can, but they also have a fun and rewarding time doing it. The Hope Brigade Club is not only a way to give back to those in need, it is also an opportunity to be with friends and make a difference.

“I am looking forward to working to help cancer patients and also being able to do it with my friends,” said Nathan Chutczer, a junior.

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Hope Brigade Club brings cheer to UCSF with holiday toy drive


Mikayla Nguyen

Hope Brigade Club advertises the toy drive by creating flyers and posting them around Carlmont.

December, a cold winter season full of joy, giving, and many religious and cultural holidays including Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas.

While many children and teenagers around the globe associate this time of year with gifts, some are not accustomed to that luxury for various reasons.

That is why the Hope Brigade Club collects toys to donate to kids at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital.

“We’ve done this toy drive for the past 3 years,” said Cindy Chen, the club president. “Every year our goal is to collect as many toys as possible to make these kids happy because a lot of kids at UCSF have cancer and some of their parents can’t afford to have a good Christmas with them so these toys are good to help them out.”

According to Chen, there is a lot of student participation during the toy drive.

Students can donate a variety of toys, ranging from dolls and action figures to footballs and bracelet makers.

Toys that are secondhand can be donated, but they have to be in a good condition as they are holiday gifts for children at UCSF.

“I like the idea of giving a new gift to someone in comparison to giving an old gift,” said Evan McDonald, a sophomore. “Even though I am trying to save money I don’t want to be cheap when it comes to these gifts.”

For students who are unsure of what to donate, some teachers have found other ways to enable their contribution.

“Last year, one teacher collected money from her students and bought toys with the money that they gave her,” Chen said.

This solution helps students who may not have enough extra money to buy a gift. It allows them to still donate without going out and buying a gift.

However, some still think it is more fulfilling to buy the gift themselves.

“Most of the time it’s better to actually go out and get the gift,” McDonald said. “Because it shows how you’re not just checking off a box on a list to make yourself feel better, you’re actually going out of your way to get a toy hoping that it gets to a kid. That in itself is nice.”

The toy drive will end on Dec. 14, the Friday before final exams.

After the drive ends, Chen will bring the toys to UCSF where they will be distributed to the patients

“Even if you can’t see the person who truly bought the gift for you, just knowing that there are people that can help you, is something that can hit deep and it can last forever,” McDonald said. “It’s a good feeling to have.”

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