Operation BBQ

By Fred Lambert
Special to Valencia Voice

Students lined up to get a hot plate of barbecue at Valencia’s Osceola campus on Tuesday, Sept. 13. Hot dogs and hamburgers were dished out in accordance with “Operation BBQ,” a fundraising event established by Valencia Volunteers.

“The objective is to raise money for our local police and fire departments,” said Carlos LaBron Riviera, former Valencia Student and the Valencia Volunteer coordinator for the Osceola campus. “We understand that there’s been some budget cuts, but we just want to appreciate them for their service to Valencia.”

Valencia Volunteers enables service opportunities for students through projects that raise funds for local organizations. “Valencia Volunteer’s main goal is to give that sense of community to our students by having those opportunities available to them,” LaBron explained in-between burger flips.  “We record all student volunteer hours and serve as a resource for our local community contacts.” LaBron’s chapter is one of four volunteer groups set up among Valencia’s campuses.

Most of the student business was attracted by the smell of cooking meat, rather than the cause of raising money.

“I just got off the bus, I saw the smoke, and I was hungry,” said radiography major Yanaira Hernandez.

Efrain Jiminez, whose step-brother is in the military, was less apathetic. “It’s a good cause; helping out people who help us out,” she said. “It’s good to give back.”

The event raised $275 for the Osceola County Fire Department’s Fire Safety Education division.

The department visits elementary schools to teach children about fire safety through fun activities. Funds for supplies, such as crayons and fire safety activity books, has been tight due to budget cuts, and the money raised at the bbq will go towards the purchase of those items.

Alexandra Blanco, one of four assistant coordinators to Osceola’s Valencia Volunteers chapter, said that local firefighters had been invited to enjoy the outdoor feast, which they agreed to attend if deviations from daily responsibilities permitted. They had still not shown up by 1:00 pm, indicating more pressing duties had called.Firefighters on shift at the adjacent station declined official comment, but expressed appreciation for Valencia Volunteer’s proactive efforts.