By Olivia D., Youth Ambassador representing Central San Mateo County
Welcome! Hello from the SamTrans Youth Ambassadors of 2018-2019! We are all honored to be a part of the first of, hopefully, many Youth Ambassadors. Since we had our first meeting in October, we have begun our hands-on involvement in SamTrans events. We have all taken part in the Holiday Train, the Stuff-a-Bus Toy Drive, and Hometown Holidays parade, in addition to our monthly meetings. This blog post is meant to inform you, the reader, of what the Youth Ambassadors do. Without further ado, welcome to our first edition.
Youth Ambassadors walking in the
Hometown Holidays Parade in
downtown Redwood City on Dec. 1.
Hometown Holidays Parade
SamTrans’s participation in the Hometown Holidays Parade has been a staple for eight consecutive years. SamTrans sends a custom decorated bus driving down Broadway in downtown Redwood City for the annual Hometown Holidays Parade. The parade is a family-friendly event that includes live entertainment, carnival rides, photos with Santa, and inflatable jump houses. The bus is parked at the Redwood City Caltrain Station after the parade where the annual Holiday Train arrives that same evening as one of its station stops.
Two of our Youth Ambassadors were able to attend the parade. The Ambassadors were able to meet many of the SamTrans staff and had a great time walking with the parade and handing out SamTrans swag to the spectators. The highlight for our Ambassadors during this event was the reactions of the children when they were given SamTrans trinkets.
The Caltrain Holiday Train
The annual Caltrain Holiday Train has been a time-honored Bay Area tradition since 2001. It is a free family-friendly event that aims to bring holiday cheer, as well as collect toys for underserved children. Spectators of the event enjoy a festively decorated train which pulls into designated stations, delivering characters and cheerful entertainment.
The event is not all about fun, however, as it contributes to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots and the Salvation Army’s Season of Giving program, which helps local Bay Area families by collecting new, unwrapped toys from attendees. We had quite a few people volunteer at the Caltrain Holiday Train event. The Ambassadors helped out as greeters, handing out candy canes and other Caltrain swag. In the meeting following the Holiday Train, SamTrans Ambassadors unanimously reported the children’s reactions to receiving small trinkets and seeing the characters as their favorite part of the experience.
Stuff a Bus Toy Drive
The Stuff a Bus Toy Drive is an annual event that collects toys for Bay Area children in need through the U.S. Marine Corps Toys for Tots program and the Salvation Army’s Season of Giving Program. This year was co-sponsored by WILD 94.9 and Serramonte Center. SamTrans collects toys at donation bins, but more famously at the Serramonte Center with a decorated SamTrans Bus, which is filled with the donations. During the event, donors also got to enjoy hot chocolate, giveaways, and cookies. The Stuff a Bus Toy Drive was a success with the Youth Ambassadors bringing in over 20 new toys to contribute to the toy drive. The Ambassador who brought in the most toys were gifted tickets to the Wild 94.9 Jingle Ball. The Ambassador chose to donate the concert tickets to the students that donated to the toy drive.
The Ambassadors have many ideas for the future of the program which we have been discussing and planning during our meetings and outside of our meetings. We hope to facilitate outreach events to help educate our peers on how to use SamTrans, as well as encourage them to use SamTrans more often. We have also been brainstorming and planning to improve SamTrans How to Ride videos to make them a bit more accessible to a younger audience. In addition to the videos, we are working to renovate the SamTrans Youth page on the website with the goal of making it more streamlined and appealing to youth. The most long-term project that the Youth Ambassadors are working on is the establishment of an Instagram account for the Youth Ambassadors, which would target the youth through clever memes that the Youth Ambassadors can create ourselves, as well as other material we have yet to fully decide on. The Youth Ambassadors have many goals and we are all excited to accomplish as many as we can. We hope that you are excited to see the final products as well.