Highlighted Partner: REACH

REACH brings together a group of Asian high school students to make a difference in the Central Florida community. The goal of REACH (Recognizing Experiencing Asian Culture and Heritage) is to promote Asian cultural heritage by reaching out to other young community leaders within Central Florida, through programs such as cultural performances, classroom presentations and carnival activities. REACH also educates young leaders through personal growth training, event planning and with community outreach through volunteering of their time, talents and treasures.

For the past two years, REACH students from 10 area high schools have participated in a toy drive, benefiting our Christmas Mall event as well as volunteered during the day of the event. Christmas Mall is an annual event hosted by UP Orlando to help families who are struggling with poverty, to help create some happy Christmas day memories without breaking their budgets.

UP Orlando partners with area companies, churches and schools to conduct toy drives during the months of October and November. On the day of the Christmas Mall, parents from the low-income families are able to select brand new toys for $1, $3, or $5. This event helps promote UP Orlando’s mantra of a “hand-up, not a hand-out”, thus providing participants the ability to buy gifts they otherwise might not be able to purchase.

The Christmas Mall event requires many volunteers and a lot of toy donations! This year more than 50 REACH students volunteered on the day of the event. They also were able to recruit eight bi-lingual volunteers from different schools by contacting Spanish Honor Societies! In addition, other REACH volunteers worked in the bike shop, putting bikes together for the mall, helped direct traffic in the parking lot and even helped beautify our campus by painting all of the exterior doors!

As Jiselle Lee, one of the board member from REACH, stated, “This was an exciting experience of self-discovery for me; we achieved such great success from our hard work. The UP Christmas Mall is a great event to practice taking initiative and team building. Future REACH officers and volunteers should keep an eye out for this event because it is a great opportunity to exercise these fundamental life skills.”

We are so appreciative of this partnership for two consecutive years! A huge thank you goes out to the wonderful group of youth from the REACH organization. These future leaders within our community are making a difference, TODAY!