YMCA Youth & Government students

Students in the YMCA Youth & Government civic education program pack care packages for U.S. military personnel deployed overseas. Members of the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA in Santa Ynez are currently collecting items for this year's packages.

Contributed Photo

The high school Youth & Government delegates of Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA in Santa Ynez are on a mission to collect the supplies needed to create care packages for U.S. military personnel serving overseas.

Every year, the Youth & Government civic education program for California devises a social initiative for Y delegations across the state to participate in as part of their #BeTheChange movement, said Tina Hernandez, marketing and communications director for the Channel Islands YMCA.

Last year, the delegations collected enough supplies to assemble 648 individual care packages for overseas military troops and homeless veterans in Fresno.

This year they aim to gather enough supplies to assemble 1,000 care packages, Hernandez said.

The Stuart C. Gildred delegation is assigned to collect such snacks and treats as individually wrapped hard candy, chewing and bubble gum, mints, breath strips, individually wrapped fruit snacks, individually packaged nuts, seeds, pretzels, cookies, chips, crackers and sweetened drink mixes.

“The social initiative is important to our delegation because it makes us more aware of things happening outside of our community,” said John Crowell, program director for the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA.

“There are people in need, and if we have the capacity to help them, we should,” he continued. “It also shows that youth are engaged in our communities, and together they can make a difference.”

Youth & Government is a cause-driven program that strives to engage high school youth in a hands-on experience that educates them on government while fostering their ideas, leadership skills, character and critical thinking, he said.

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For more information, contact Crowell at John.Crowell@ciymca.org or Scott Arellano at Scott.Arellano@ciymca.org.

The Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA is one of seven branches of the Channel Islands YMCA, a charitable organization established in 1887 that serves Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

For more information about the Stuart C. Gildred Family YMCA, visit www.ciymca.org/stuartgildred/ or call 686-2037.

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at mhodgson@leecentralcoastnews.com.

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