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#NeighborhoodHeroes: Local student is reading to donate meals to families

Desert Learning Academy second grader, Luis Arizmendi with the help of his mother Joan Arellano, found a way to donate meals to families while expanding his education.  Luis is an avid reader and enjoys reading. Learning A-Z (Raz Kids) is a district program where students can read and accumulate stars, like points. “What Raz kids does is convert those stars into coins for UNICEF to feed families locally, nationally, and globally,” said Lynn Yada, the elementary teacher at Desert Learning Academy. 

Arizmendi accumulated over 23,000 stars for listening, reading, and taking quizzes on the books he read. These stars were then able to be transitioned into donations to meals for families in need. “I donated my stars because I felt bad for people who didn’t have money to buy food,” said Arizmendi.

Arizmendi had the option to donate 8,000 stars for one meal or 20,000 stars for three meals to US families in need. He chose to donate 20,000 stars to help more families.  The 20,000 starts gave three meals to families. Across the United States, kids have donated their stars and have given nearly 34,000 meals to families in need. “I have other students reading books but they are not donating the stars. I have encouraged them to donate the stars, but most of them like to accumulate their stars and dress up their avatar,” said Yada. Instead of choosing to dress up his avatar, Arizmendi said he chooses to donate. “I was emotional because I was like wow, I never expected it. There’s kids that want to dress us in their avatar and do stuff and he’s like no I can read and get more stars,” said Arellano. 

Arizmendi’s mother and teacher are so proud of him because he is reading at a 3rd grade level and he’s in 2nd grade. They said to date, he has read over 150 books and wants to continue to collect stars to donate to others.

“Helping others is the best way, you never know one day it’s us and one day it’s other people that we can help and why not today, we could do it,” said Arellano. “I want to just keep helping families,” added Arizmendi. 

News Channel 3's Taban Sharifi will have the full interview with Arizmendi, his mother, and his teacher Thursday evening on KESQ News Channel 3.

Celebrating #NeighborhoodHeroes

While the coronavirus crisis is keeping us apart, we know the Coachella Valley community is still coming together to help each other. We are looking for those who are lending a hand during this uncertain time. Do you know of any everyday people who are going out of their way to help others? Have you seen someone find creative solutions to the new challenges we all face?

News Channel 3 wants to celebrate these neighborhood heroes. Tell us about them here. Enter HERE or email or If you see good happening on social media, share it with us, and tag it #neighborhoodheroes for us to see.

We are all in this together. Help us showcase the good that's happening right here in the Coachella Valley.

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Taban Sharifi

Taban Sharifi is a Meteorologist and Reporter with KESQ News Channel 3, The Desert’s News & Weather Leader. Learn more about Taban here.


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