Pacific Trails Junior Optimists work to serve their community

The pandemic has not slowed down the community service efforts of the newly formed Pacific Trails Middle School Junior Optimist International Club. Led by seventh grade president Sydney Mafong, the group has kept busy with projects such as park and trail cleanups at Elizabeth Rabbitt Park Neighborhood Park in Del Mar Mesa and community recycling to raise funds to support their service efforts.

Sydney was looking for a club to start at her new middle school so she researched clubs at neighboring Canyon Crest Academy. She reached out to Ryan Clairmont, the president of CCA’s Junior Optimist club for help in getting a club going.

“I thought it would be really fun to start this community service club and to get to know new people,” Sydney said.

She said the club would not be possible without Ryan’s help as well as Jim Parrotte, their sponsor from the Del Mar Solana Beach Optimist Club and their two advisors Amy Han and Alia Ludwig,

To get the word out, she made announcements in her distance learning classes and in the school’s newsletters and the club held its first Zoom meeting early in the school year. Interested students got started right away on their community service efforts such as recycling and writing inspirational cards to senior citizens with CCA Junior Optimists.

Student Ariana Ludwig serves as vice president, Mina Crouch as secretary, An Nguyen and Lauren Kan are co-treasurers and Nicole Chen is the club’s publicist.

On March 5, the group gathered at Sage Canyon Park and made 113 sack lunches to be distributed by Father Joe’s Village. This was the second time the group has supported Father Joe’s with nutritious lunches. And on March 12, they held a virtual lasagna-making event, five club members making lasagnas at home in their kitchens together on Zoom that would be distributed by an organization called Lasagna Love that feeds families in need.

Sydney is hopeful that the club will grow even more in the coming year.

“I love that we get to help the community but also meet new people, learn how to work with others and be leaders,” Sydney said.