By: Sarah Cruz
Issue date: 3/26/08 Section: News
The Staples Center hosted a charity dodgeball tournament to raise funds for a proposed youth shelter in Fullerton.
Stand Up For Kids, a charity organization focused on helping young homeless and disadvantaged youth, organized the event in coordination with California State Fullerton Public Relations students and the Oxford Academy.
The Saturday event featured over 46 local and national teams. The players competed for the championship trophy and the L.A. Dodgeball Society earned the first place award.
It is a misfit group led by captain Handsome Costanza. The Society was not formed specifically for this event; they are a recreational league of dodgeball enthusiasts who pride themselves on spandex and mustaches.
Other teams banded together just to participate in the tournament.
"It’s just for fun," Priscilla Chang, a member of JackPotLuck, said. Her team was led by Steven Hwang who is a volunteer at Stand Up For Kids.
Two years ago, Hwang created the dodgeball tournament. This year, the tournament moved to the Staples Center.
Stand Up For Kids is the recipient of the proceeds from the event. The center wants to build a shelter in Fullerton for homeless and street kids to have a safehaven away from the street.
"We rescue homeless and street kids," Dijon Turner, executive director for Stand Up Kids said. "We help them do the things they want to do. We spend time with them. If they want to get a GED, get back in to school [or] get an ID, we go together to the DMV."
The costumed and mustached players with their retro athletic wear helped bring to light kids who have been forgotten, Turner said.
"These are a group of people that are swept under the carpet," he said.
Stand Up For Kids provides food, hygiene items and counsel to kids. Turner said the charity exists for two main purposes.
"Our two main goals are to relieve suffering of street kids and homeless kids and to relieve the feeling of abandonment."
Turner hoped the event would bring awareness and increased visibility.
Five CSUF public relations students worked on the event as part of a requirement for their degree. Anna Ahle, one of the group members, encouraged students to participate in events such as the tournament.
"Some people think it’s too hard to get involved in volunteering," Ahle said. "They think it takes a lot of time and energy." The dodgeball tournament was a great way for people to volunteer and have fun without spending a large amount of time, she said
Fullerton may seem to be an odd choice for a youth shelter but despite its affluence, it is a gathering place for homeless and street kids, Turner said.
"Fullerton is a hub. You have the train station and traveling kids stopping in," he said.
Turner encourages students to not only become involved in Stand Up For Kids but to show respect and care for homeless and street kids they may meet around town.
"Be kind and respectful if you see street kids. Go and talk to them. They know people will give them money but they would rather have people talk to them."