Tuesday, December 8, 2015

District's parking cops give more than tickets

Terria Bridgeford takes inventory of the
 latest batch of  unclaimed
lost-and-found items.
The Campus and Parking Services folks at the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District may not be known for spreading holiday cheer, given that, among other things, they’re the parking enforcers at the two East County campuses.

But far from being Christmas Grinches or parsimonious Scrooges, the department is involved in charitable efforts benefitting students of modest means, medical clinics in developing nations, and military veterans who have returned home wounded from the Middle East conflicts. Items collected through Lost and Found that go unclaimed for 90 days are donated to such worthy causes, instead of being tossed into the recycling bin.

Of the more than 1,500 items processed annually, unclaimed school supplies such as flash drives, textbooks, notebooks and backpacks are donated to Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges’ student services programs for low-income students and those with disabilities.
 Misplaced spectacles – sun glasses, prescription glasses and reading glasses – are refurbished and have gone to clinics in Sri Lanka, El Salvador, Argentina, Venezuela, the Philippines, Mexico and Katmandu in Nepal, thanks to the efforts of a now-retired Grossmont College employee Alba Orr, a longtime member of the Lions Club. This year, CAPS provided about 165 pairs of glasses to Orr, whose tireless volunteer work on behalf of the service club and its international mission to improve the vision of the world’s neediest populations is widely known throughout the district.

Some of the sunglasses are distributed to farm workers in the Imperial Valley, said Orr, who estimates she’s collected some 10,000 pairs of glasses through the college district and other local sites since 1990.

“The smiles on people’s faces – some who haven’t been able to see clearly for years because they’re unable to get glasses – is what makes it all worthwhile,” said Orr, whose late husband  inspired her to first join the Lions in the 1970s.

“When people come up and say thank you so much, God bless you for what you’re doing – it just makes me feel good that I am giving something for the less fortunate,” Orr said.

All cell phones, iPads and other electronic devices that go unclaimed are given to the Wounded Warriors Project, a veterans’ service organization that offers programs, services and events for wounded veterans of military actions following the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

CAPS, formed in 2013 when the college district separated law enforcement functions from parking enforcement, expanded its charitable efforts this year in partnership with the San Diego Sheriff’s Office.  The department recently donated a dozen bicycles to the children of students enrolled through state-funded assistance programs at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges.

CAPS Director Nicole Conklin said she and Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Goggin received the bikes through a Sheriff’s Department program in which used bikes are refurbished by trustees in the George Bailey Detention Facility and given to community groups and institutions through an application process. Goggin serves as the sergeant in charge of the Sheriff’s Department unit assigned to the colleges and brought the bike program to the campuses.

“We first participated at the start of the semester with the giveaway of adult bikes during orientation week at the colleges and everyone loved it, so we applied for more bikes, this time for both adults and smaller children for the holidays,” said Conklin, whose CAPS department, in addition to parking enforcement, provides services including safety escorts, lost and found, battery jumps and vehicle and room unlocks. “It’s our way of giving back to the college district and showing people that we are an approachable team, here to help students and staff.”

For more information about Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges, including registering for spring semester classes, go to www.gcccd.edu

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