The rising sun was hidden behind clouds, loud music consumed the park and the drizzling sky made Disneyland glisten. But underneath the gloom marched a crowd of almost 14,000 energetic people, determined to walk for a cause.
Among the thousands was a group of 50 students who raised $3,000 and sported ash-gray shirts with â€œCSUF CASSAâ€ on their backs while proudly holding signs that said the same.
It was the Child and Adolescent Studies Student Associationâ€™s (CASSA) fifth year participating in the annual 5K CHOC walk, one of the many volunteer events the association partakes in.
â€œDespite waking up before sunrise and walking in a constant drizzle, everyone was cheerful and happy to be contributing to the cause,â€ says Lindsey Ellsworth, a child and adolescent studies major and CASSA vice president.
Ellsworth says the purpose of CASSA is to enhance the lives of the children they volunteer with, even if their influence is relatively small.
Jessica Gutierrez, 21, a child and adolescent studies major and CASSA president says, â€œThis year at the CHOC walk, it hit us hard as we were walking with the thousands of people alongside us. We were walking for helpless, innocent children who needed us most.â€
With nearly 200 active members, CASSA is one of the largest student associations on campus. Its members contribute to the community while gaining professional development and networking.
CASSA regularly volunteers at Orangewood Childrenâ€™s Home where they plan activities and interact with children who have been removed from their home because of unfortunate circumstances. Last fall, they participated in the construction of a playground dedicated to the children and families of Coletteâ€™s Childrenâ€™s Home, a local homeless shelter for women and children. They also host monthly donation drives and fundraisers throughout the semester.
Every other week, the association has guest speakers who are generally professionals from a variety of different backgrounds that lecture on their personal experiences working with children and help students explore different career paths. Along with speakers, CASSA also offers its members special workshops.
When talking about her career path and admitting she is now aware that becoming a teacher is not her only option, Whitney Robinson, 22, a child and adolescent studies major and CASSA community projects manager says, â€œThrough volunteer work and guest speakers, CASSA has opened the eyes of the members and helped them realize that there are other areas to work in after graduation, such as non-profit organizations.â€
Partnering up with local organizations and volunteering is not only rewarding, it is a great way to explore oneâ€™s major or career interests and a great way to meet people with similar goals.
The association is not limited to only students majoring in child and adolescent studies. Anyone who is interested in working with or volunteering to help children is invited to join.
â€œThe CHOC walk saying was â€˜every step counts for kids,â€™â€ Gutierrez said. â€œThat saying alone sums up what CASSA is about – everything we do is for children and thatâ€™s why weâ€™re a part of this association.â€
CASSA meets every Thursday in EC 122 from noon to 12:45 p.m. For more information you can visit their website at Hhd.Fullerton.edu/cas/CASSA/