Circle K International at Fresno State joined more than 300 other Circle K students around California last weekend at the city of Stockton to clean up trash and revitalize a local community farm.
A dozen members of the Fresno club went to the event. Fresno State senior Christopher Kawaguchi, Circle K president, said the members were excited to help out the small city just north of Fresno.
“Even though Stockton isn’t Fresno, it’s still our community. It’s still a part of California,” he said. “It’s still a part of what we are, so any community that we help out is a community that we feel strongly towards.
“We like helping out Fresno, but if we can help other communities too then we know that we’re doing our part.”
The event was hosted by the Circle K club at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Fresno State’s Circle K club is part of the California-Nevada-Hawaii district.
The plan to help Stockton was chosen by the Fresno group for its District Large-Scale Service Project (DLSSP). Other Circle K members who joined them included students from University of Reno, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, UC Riverside and Stanford University.
The DLSSP events come around every so often, and Kawaguchi allows the other members to decide if they want to do it. This year people wanted to help out rivers in the Valley, and Stockton allowed them to do that as well as help the farm.
Circle K is a leadership development and community service organization and club at Fresno State, Kawaguchi said. The club’s goal is to promote leadership via the platform of community service.
“By the time you graduate from college, you should have that ability to have a lifelong commitment to wanting to serve your community and doing more than what you think is possible, because leadership is not an easy task,” he said. “It’s always easy to learn, but never easy to actually do. And we hope you learn that.”
The DLSSP events come around every so often, and Kawaguchi allows the other members to decide which events they want to do. This year, the Circle K members wanted to maintain the rivers of the Central Valley, and the cleanup at Stockton allowed them to do that as well as help a community farm.
At Stockton, Kawaguchi said the group’s task included cleaning trash from the banks of the Calaveras River, which sees heavy homeless traffic.
Afterward the group went to the Boggs Tract area farm to remove tumbleweeds, spread gravel, pull weeds and plant trees.
Kawaguchi said that taking care of the farm was important, as it provided a vital service to the city’s residents.
“The whole community there, actually, is affected by that community farm, because every profit that the farm produces goes straight back to that community,” Kawaguchi said. “We took great pride in that because we have that manpower to accomplish so much in that one day.”
Kevin Gordy, Circle K club Lieutenant Governor, said that Stockton was chosen due to its key location in California.
“It was an area that could be accessed by multiple clubs in the region, so that’s why we decided on [Stockton],” he said.
Stockton is a city that is usually under the radar of many people living in Fresno, Gordy said. The city is in need of aid, and the group felt that it needed the extra hands, and the University of the Pacific Circle K club was happy to see the Fresno State chapter volunteer.
“I think it was a great experience,” he said. “They were definitely very welcoming. You get the opportunity to meet a lot of great people that are just as passionate about helping the community.”
The Fresno State organization has rarely slowed down this semester. Two weeks ago, the group, partnered with University Student Union, made more than 100 scarves for the Poverello House, an organization that helps the homeless in downtown Fresno.
On Saturday, the group will take off for Pacoima, Calif., near Los Angeles county. Kawaguchi said they will work with MEND Poverty and Youth Speak Collective assisting low-income families “to create a pathway of self-reliance through providing basic human needs and services, while Youth Speak Collective focuses on youth and empowerment.”
The group will make blankets, stuffed rabbits and aprons as well as pack food and plant trees. Finally, they will have a college day with local teens and host a community health fair.
Kawaguchi said he entered Fresno State for mechanical engineering, but after a fateful encounter with a thankful patron when he was volunteering at a soup kitchen, he decided to follow the path of becoming a community leader.
“Ever since then, I realized that such small acts we do make a big difference in somebody’s life,” he said.
Kawaguchi is now a political science major, focusing on public administration. He believes that students who share a similar passion in helping others will find membership at Circle K International rewarding.
“Not only are you doing leadership, which is for yourself, but you’re helping other people in the process and, as a community, I think we really need to concentrate on that,” Kawaguchi said. “I really feel that we have more in us to help each other.
“You don’t always have to do the big projects. You can do small projects, and you can do a lot of them. But those small projects, they do affect people.”