San Carlos Youth Advisory Committee holds donation drive


Rebecca Von Tersch

Aiming for contactless donations, San Carlos YAC had set up boxes for donation drop off. “We want to limit contact,” Devalcheruvu said.

One of San Carlos’s volunteer groups, the Youth Advisory Committee (YAC), hosted a Homeless Care COVID-19 Donation drive as a project for the community. 

The San Carlos YAC held their Homeless Care COVID-19 donation drive in partnership with LifeMoves, a non-profit homelessness solutions organization, on Nov. 21.

The San Carlos YAC is known for their drives, which occur throughout the year. They will hold blood drives through June 2021. The YAC has partnered with One Life Counseling, a counseling center, to do other drives in the past.

Since last year, Maya Devalcheruvu and Lora Simakova, third- and fifth-year YAC members, have been working on this project together. According to Devalcheruvu, it was inspired by a similar project she had done a few years prior. 

“We were originally starting the project with just the two of us. But we decided to make it a bigger subcommittee and involve a lot of other people,” Devalcheruvu said.

In anticipation of the event, both Simakova and Devalcheruvu predicted a successful drive, based on past events’ success.

“Typically, our drives go well… We also had a diaper drive [earlier this year], and we got an insane amount of donations. We think it will go pretty well. We’re hoping for over 50 brown bags [of donation materials], which is a pretty good number for us,” Simakova said.

We’re hoping for over 50 brown bags, which is a pretty good number for us.”

— Lora Simakova

The drive was contactless in order to adhere to COVID-19 regulations. For completely contactless donations, an Amazon wishlist was made available, with all donations going to LifeMoves. Despite COVID-19 concerns, people still dropped off donations to the drive site, although they followed distancing guidelines. 

“We have a contactless drop-off, we have a bin, and we have our A-frame to let people know [where to drop off donations], and we have an Amazon wishlist if people wanted to be 100% contactless,” said Caitlyn Masoto, the San Carlos YAC’s advisor.

After the drive, YAC members would sort the donations and count them before they were taken to LifeMoves’ Menlo Park location. Due to COVID-19, Masoto asked YAC volunteers to stay home instead of running in-person shifts at the drive, so that the sorting would happen later. The YAC wanted to meet a goal of 50 brown paper bags.

At the donation site, Masoto placed the donations in separate bags. The donations were piling up by the end of the drop off window. (Rebecca Von Tersch)

“We’re going to sort them out, and we’re going to measure [the number of brown bags]. After that, Caitlin will drive [the donations] to the LifeMoves Menlo Park main office. Then [LifeMoves volunteers] are going to sanitize the donations,” Devalcheruvu said.

The subcommittee is planning future events and activities, including weekly videos for young students, a Black Lives Matter mural on Laurel Street, and an art competition. According to Simakova, the point of the subcommittee is to provide support services to the community. 

Masoto said that Devalcheruvu and Simakova not only began and led the project, but they did most of the planning and the work involved to get the drive up and running. The local community was also involved in spreading the word about the drive.

“Our YAC members reached out to LifeMoves. They talked to LifeMoves’ coordinator, and I connected our YAC members to other YACs from other cities,” Masoto said. “We got [the drive] in some city newsletters. The community seemed to get behind the event… we didn’t have to promote it that much.”

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