Campus police departments donate time to give back to those in need.
By Adriana Ruiz
Coming from a family with loved ones who have died from cancer, campus Police Officer Michael Castillo and other members of the Alamo Colleges Police Department will volunteer this month for the second year in a row at a Ronald McDonald House near this college.
Last November, they cleaned, cooked and decorated at the house, 227 Lewis St. one of ## Ronald McDonald houses worldwide, it provides low-cost lodging for families whose children are receiving medical treatment.
Castillo said he and other members of the police department visited the shelter last year and felt they needed to do what they could to help.
“We went down and saw the kids with chemo and leukemia,” Castillo said. “They (the shelter) rely heavily on volunteers. … I explained (to the police department) we need to be a part of it.”
Last November Castillo and his colleagues celebrated Alamo Colleges Police Day by volunteering there.
“We cleaned the entire house, decorated a police-themed room and barbecued with all proceeds from the police department,” Castillo said.
Along with volunteer time, Castillo said the department collected non-perishable food donations for the shelter.
He said police officers also donated bikes, and Alamo Colleges Deputy Chief Joe Curiel performed a magic show for the children.
“This is just about giving back,” Castillo said. “It’ll change your life.”
Juanita Bivin, house manager at the Ronald McDonald House, said the relationship between the police department and the shelter started early last year when the officers donated bikes to the shelter.
“They had some bicycles they wanted to donate because people were leaving them on campus and no one wanted to claim them, so they were kind enough to fix them up for us and donate them to us,” Bivin said. “They just kind of stopped by and asked if we take donations, and we went from there and it just snowballed into other things.”
Bivin said although the shelter frequently receives help from volunteers, the police department went the extra step.
“They were a group that did a little bit more,” Bivin said. “Sometimes we just have groups that just come in and clean, we have groups that just cook and other times we have groups that just come in and decorate room, so it’s a different combination of times they come in and what they do.”
The police department has donated food and clothes on various occasions as well as volunteering their time to help with whatever is needed.
“They have all pitched in and donated,” Bivin said. “They help us out. … Last time they were here they helped us move some furniture around. They basically just come in and tell us, ‘whatever you want me to do.’ I think last year they even helped us with some gardening outside.”
Castillo said the police department will volunteer at the shelter Nov. 22.
He said they will clean and cook, but instead of barbecue they will be making a spaghetti dinner for all of the families with food donated by Paul Urrabazo, director of senior feeding at Selrico, the food service contractor for the cafeteria at this campus.
Urrabazo said he will donate food for the cause because it is the right thing to do.
He said Castillo had approached him and asked if he could buy some food for the shelter, but instead, Urrabazo said he would donate food for the meal.
Anyone interested in volunteering should pick up an application at the shelter, visit the website at ronaldmcdonaldhouse-sa.org or visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/rmhcsanantonio.