Thursday, December 12

Hill provides safe Halloween


L.A. Youth trick-or-treat in dorms rather than spooky neighborhoods

Cora Ordoñez remembers trick-or-treating when she was
younger ““ in the same area where she is now raising her
child.

Now, Ordoñez says, it is unsafe for her son to
trick-or-treat in the neighborhood she grew up in.

“Kids around here are in danger of joining gangs, and the
streets aren’t safe anymore. I signed my son up to go to UCLA
for Halloween because we know it’s a safe environment here,
and that’s what we look for for the children,” said
Ordoñez, mother of a 12-year-old who attends L.A. Bridges, a
free after-school childcare program that works with at-risk
youths.

“Chaperoning is going to be the highlight for me because
its nice to spend time with my son in a nice environment,”
Ordoñez said.

More than 2,500 children from economically disadvantaged areas
in Los Angeles were bused to campus to take part in the 15th annual
All Hill Halloween event Wednesday night.

The elementary and middle school-aged children trick-or-treated
in residence halls where UCLA students handed out candy. Volunteers
led groups of children through haunted houses and played carnival
games with them.

UCLA students who have been planning the event for the past few
weeks said they have been eagerly anticipating the arrival of the
children.

“The kids always come out so excited and cute and
it’s nice to give them an opportunity they wouldn’t
normally get in their own neighborhood,” said Chalita
Dasnanjali, Hitch Suites volunteer and second-year undeclared
student.

UCLA tour guides led children down decorated hallways, painted
faces, and watched Halloween movies with them.

Many students said they volunteer to guide the trick-or-treaters
because children in Los Angeles don’t have the same
opportunities today as they had when they were children.

“I did it for the kids because they deserve it. As a tour
guide, I’m going to make sure they have the best Halloween
ever,” said John Beran, a first-year biological chemistry
student dressed as a cow.

Assistant Principal of George Washington Carver Middle School
Sofia Freire, like many other administrators, said she feels a
night of fun at UCLA is rewarding for the children.

“We’re taking so many kids because they really
enjoyed it last year. This is our way of rewarding our kids (who
have) perfect attendance,” said Freire.

Rieber Hall volunteers painted faces, taught children how to
fold paper animals, and introduced them to student athletes.
Volunteers for each residence hall designed their own
activities.

“Tonight is a good opportunity for students to get
involved with the school while showing the kids a good time,”
said second-year biological chemistry student Jessica
Helman-Cubilla, dressed as a cat.

Student volunteers at UCLA said they will continue to volunteer
in coming years to give children a safe environment to
trick-or-treat ““ an opportunity they may not have in their
own neighborhoods.

“One of the major reasons why we go is because a lot of
our parents don’t allow their kids to go trick-or-treating
because its not safe to go where they live. We’re extremely
grateful for the opportunity UCLA has given us,” Freire
said.

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