Pleasanton holds its Make a Difference festival at Senior Center

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Aileen Hu

Student volunteers Sydney Queen (’24), Bill Situ (’23), and Mateo Gable (’24) greeted visitors at the event’s entrance.

On Saturday, January 14, the Make a Difference for Pleasanton festival took place at the Pleasanton Senior Center. Various exhibits were set up to promote volunteering opportunities and many participated. Such events became more common as the pandemic fades into the background.

“Prior to Covid, the fire prevention and fire department often participated in these volunteer fairs. There’re a lot of events that people ask us to participate in and our higher-ups decide whether they’re appropriate. And, of course, they need to see if they have someone available to do it,” said Isaac Mendel, an officer in the Livermore & Pleasanton Fire Department.

At the event, some participating organizations focused more on spreading awareness on certain matters. They come prepared to advocate and inform the people around them.

“Our organization usually comes to one of these events about once a month. And our main goal in coming is to spread awareness and promote gun safety. For that, we bring stuff to help explain the importance of safe gun storage and such,” said Srideep Dornaoa, volunteer at Be Smart For Kids.

Each of the participating organizations had to plan ahead when they signed up for the event. Booking a table was a priority, but so was gathering the necessary fliers and items for their booth.

“We started preparing our materials a few days before coming. Since we participate in these events pretty often, we usually have most of our exhibit’s things ready. We just need to figure out who’s going to manage the booth, and then get some new prizes for our games,” said Dornaoa.

Several of Amador Valley High School’s students were at the festival representing different groups that they work with.

“Recently I’ve been looking for more volunteer opportunities in the area, because it’s something I genuinely enjoy. I’m really just looking to help out the community,” said Sydney Queen (‘24).

Preparing an exhibit can look very different depending on the organization’s goal. It depends on whether they offer opportunities for volunteer work or simply share their purpose with an audience. Some, like the Museum on Main’s booth, did both.

“We come to these events to promote the museum and just get more people to come visit the museum. Finding volunteers is a secondary goal. That’s why we also make sure to include our pamphlets when we set up the booth, so people can come check out our exhibits and galleries,” said Heather O’Donnell, employee at Pleasanton’s Museum on Main.

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  • On January 14, Pleasanton’s Senior Center hosted the 2023 Make a Difference for Pleasanton festival.

  • All sorts of organizations, from the event’s sponsors to nonprofits, set up exhibits for visitors to check out.

  • Student volunteers not only participated in the event by managing exhibits, but many also went to the event in search of more volunteer opportunities.

  • Each exhibit had prepared fliers, sign-up sheets, and pamphlets to hand out to all potential volunteers and help expand their audience.