Archive for the ‘Volunteers’ Category

Japan Relief Student Car Wash Memorial Weekend

May 29, 2011

Students hosted a charity car wash for earthquake and tsunami relief at the van lot on the Idyllwild Arts campus Memorial Weekend

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This Memorial Weekend, student volunteers at Idyllwild Arts will be hosting a charity car wash. All proceeds go to the ongoing earthquake and tsunami relief efforts. The car wash will be held Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. in the van lot on campus.

Cassaundra Dunbridge, who works at the Student Health Center at Idyllwild Arts, is spearheading the event. As a registered nurse, she is aware of the monumental task of the Japanese Red Cross Society.

“We wanted the Japanese Red Cross to know that we continue to support their efforts,” Cassaundra said Saturday. “Our hearts go out to them and everyone in Japan.”

She and a legion of student volunteers worked the event on Saturday, May 28. They made homemade signs and posted them on Tollgate Road and along the fences on campus. They also put a large sign on their bench by the van stop at Strawberry Creek Plaza in Idyllwild.

And since three school vans were going back and forth to town Saturday and Sunday transporting students, the volunteers soaped the windows to advertise the car wash. Other volunteers handed out flyers in town announcing the two-day event.

There was no set price for a car wash, only that all donations would go to the Japanese Red Cross Society.

“Some people donated $5 and even $10,” said Paris, a dance major and car wash volunteer. “One woman gave us more when she heard it was for Japanese tsunami victims. She kept pulling more and more bills out of her purse.”

Soap, water hoses, brushes, rags and buckets were donated by the Idyllwild Arts Transportation Department.

Tucker moved his fleet of vans on the lot to make room for the charity car wash

Tucker McIntyre, head of Transportation, moved his fleet of eight vans out of the way, so people would have a place to park while they waited. He even helped Cassandra and the students wash cars and trucks.

John, a theater major, set up a stereo system and cranked it up loud so that the students would stay motivated.

As Saturday afternoon lagged on, Paris and Shanty, another dance major, took one of the signs and stood at the edge of campus calling out to drivers to come to their car wash.

Other student volunteers put flyers on cars in the parking lot at Strawberry Plaza.

“It didn’t matter if they were dirty or clean, we put one on every car,” one student said. “It was about 35 flyers.”

By days end, Cassaundra said they had raised $274 for their efforts, and hoped for more the next day.

However, on Sunday, May 29, Mother Nature dampened their charity car wash with a steady rain that didn’t let up before their noon start time.

“That’s OK,” Paris said. “We’re already making plans for next year.”

Some changes to their car wash efforts included more wooden signs and balloons further down Tollgate Road.

“I had no idea there were so many yard sales along Tollgate,” said Maria, a Creative Writing student and volunteer, as she rode in the van after the event on Saturday. “We had a lot of competition.”

Although rain may have washed out their efforts on Sunday, Cassaundra plans to continue to collect donations for the Japanese Red Cross Society until the school year ends on June 3rd. Donations can be dropped off at the Student Health Center on campus. For more information, call Cassaundra Dunbridge at (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Arts Students Build Homes During Break

March 23, 2011

Jazz student Alejandro (far right) is one of the 10 who is helping to build a home for the poor this week

This week during Spring Break, 10 honors students from Idyllwild Arts Academy are helping to build a home in California, as part of Habitat for Humanity. The students have been planning this trip for months, including hosting several fundraisers that helped them raise $2,387.42.

It was enough to cover their building expenses, but not living costs, said Chris Wegener, one of the three chaparones.

Their last fundraiser at the academy showcased five different types of poor homes from around the world, including a cardboard home. Before the fundraiser, it was shown just outside the lunchroom, and when it became rain soaked, it looked even more unlivable.

“It really got my attention,” said one student of the makeshift hut. “It would be miserable to live in a cardboard house like that. We ended up going to the fundraiser and buying stuff to help out.”

Chaperone Chris Wegener (right) hopes to instill lasting volunteerism among Idyllwild Arts students

At the fundraiser, there was a wide range of facts posted next to each exhibit. There also were performances of all types, including music, dance, monologues and readings, all centered on the theme of social justice and homelessness.

“Some of the performances were particularly moving and truly inspired empathy in the students,” Chris said. “Aside from opening their eyes to the broader world, it also gave them ideas of how they could use their artistic interests for the common good.”

The 10 students that will be donating their labor and time come from a variety of artistic interests, including classical music, jazz music, musical theater and creative writing. They include: Rebecca, Amber, Lukas, Samantha, Madison, Alejandro, Allison, Austin, Scarlett and Alisha.

“My hope is that all of our students will stay a little more aware of world issues and even more open to volunteerism in the future,” Chris added.

For those 10 who will be hauling, hammering, sawing, painting, and sleeping on the floor, will have quite a story to tell.  Photos and write-ups of their experience will be posted on the school’s blog site, Art in 3D, at

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Mar 23, 2011 @ 15:44

Art Students Building Houses During Spring Break

January 31, 2011

Idyllwild Arts faculty Karen and Chris help out with the ongoing bake sale to raise money for Habitat for Humanity

By Marcia E. Gawecki

During Spring Break this year, honor students from Idyllwild Arts won’t be basking on the beaches, but building houses for migrant farm workers.

This co-ed group of about 10 students who attend this high school arts boarding school are giving up their coveted one week spring break (from March 20 to March 27) to build houses for Habitat for Humanity in Oxnard, California, where there is a large population of migrant farm workers.

Habitat for Humanity was chosen because it is unrivaled in its organizational structure and specializes in dealing with students who are new to volunteerism.

“In a culture of Facebook and fast food, it is far too easy to loose touch with those in need in world around us,” said Chris Wegemer, a Physics teacher at Idyllwild Arts and one of the three chaperones. “We will experience California from a perspective that we have never seen before, exposing us to poverty and injustice right on our doorstep.”

He added that it is a great way for the students to address controversial immigrant and migrant worker issues. This is not the first time that Idyllwild Arts and migrant farm workers have crossed paths.

For years, the Idyllwild Arts Summer Program, along with the Monterey County Office of Education (MCOE), have been providing scholarships to migrant worker’s kids from California. Idyllwild Arts picks up the classes, room and board, while MCOE picks up the students’ flights and guardianship, said Diane Dennis, the registrar at Idyllwild Arts.

“In working together, we can cause change here and now, with our own two hands,” Chris added.

Arts students buy and preview the bake sale after an all-school meeting

Over the past two weeks, the students hosted a bake sale on campus. There were cookies, brownies, pound cake and trail mixes made by students and faculty alike. Nothing was priced, but all donations went into a cardboard box in the shape of a house.

So far, they’ve raised $600, which is only a fraction of their $3,300 goal. However, other fundraising events are  planned, including a “coffee house” style concert on campus to raise awareness for Habitat for Humanity.

The high goal comes from the need for each of the 10 students to bring a $145 donation fee. The fee goes to supplies for the houses, which covers everything from drywall to electrical sockets to plumbing.

Chris said that the students do not need practical carpentry experience, only a willingness to help.

“They are an amazing group of kids,” said Chris. “All of them have done some kind of service work in the past, and they’re eager to use their hands and get dirty to help others.”

The students and other two chaperones, including Daniel Grey and Phil Dunbridge, will live at a community center where they will sleep in sleeping bags.

Chris has told the students how such volunteer experiences can be life changing, how it builds character, forms lasting bonds, and creates a deeper sense of empathy for all those in need.

For more information on the Habitat for Humanity honors project, call Chris at (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.