By Mia Currie
Oak Hall School’s Child Advocacy Center (CAC) club recently restarted after three years of inactivity thanks to current club president, Oak Hall sophomore, Tori Kitchens. The purpose of the club is to support the Gainesville CAC to help children in abusive/neglectful home situations through volunteer work. The club is currently selling Pura Vida bracelets for $5 to raise funds and can be ordered from Kitchens and her fellow Oak Hall sophomores Julia Gordan, Rinnah Masadieu, Christina Sarantos and Middle School teacher Blair Fils.
Fils, who is the CAC club sponsor, has a long-standing relationship with the organization. Earlier this school year, she was approached by Kitchens and immediately agreed to represent the club. Over the course of 10 years, Fils has been a volunteer and an advisor to student organizations in Georgia and Gainesville. She believes that people don’t understand what the CAC does in Gainesville and how it serves the community. By providing food, shelter, clothes, and any support service to a neglected child, the club ensures that the Gainesville CAC “has what it needs to continue serving as a pillar in the community,” Fils said.
The club is currently focused on growing within Oak Hall as it is still in its “infant stage”. Fils admits that it has been hard for the club to get off the ground and get started in the community due to the pandemic but is focused on what the club can do within the school. Although it is a club with both Middle and Upper School members, meetings are held in Fils’s classroom after school to accommodate any conflicting schedules. When mentioning the Pura Vida fundraiser, Fils explained how the club has had an ongoing relationship with the company and Kitchens was able to “just pick it up” when the CAC restarted.
Gordan has been an active member of the CAC for two years. Her biggest deciding factor when joining was being able to contribute in any way possible to the bettering of a neglected child’s life. The current Pura Vida collaboration will do just that, as it is raising funds to buy snacks and toys for the children and make overall improvements to the center itself. Since her involvement, Gordan has attended five events and hopes to “get out and do more events with the Child Advocacy Center ASAP,” she said. Although COVID-19 impacted the club, the officers and members are trying their best to remain active both within the school and the Gainesville community.