Fresno State University senior Jasmine Castillo started a tradition for her 21st birthday, and it’s since turned into a family affair that’s also inspired her 7-year-old sister to serve.
The public health administration major decided four years ago she would rather spend her 21st birthday helping others than celebrating by having her first legal adult beverage, so she launched a fundraiser online called “Jaz’s Birthday Wish” to buy toiletries for the Poverello House homeless shelter in downtown Fresno.
“For me growing up, people always wanted to drink,” Castillo told The Collegian. “And I was just like, it was never a thing for me. Why do we have to do that?” “How about we do something more positive?” she said. “More beneficial.”
For the first couple of years Castillo delivered supplies to the Poverello House on her birthday, simply dropping off the donations. But in 2017 she decided to take a more active role, and recruited family to personally hand out packages of toiletries, as well water and burritos.
This year Castello raised $356.25 to buy ingredients to make 290 burritos and make 284 packs of toiletries. She spent her birthday cooking up the burritos with an assembly line of family helping out, including her 7-year-old sister.
“I want to signify that I’m here to help, that I want to make a change,” she said. “I’m always telling my family I’m going to change the world.”
Dulce Sora, a friend of Castello’s from Edison High School, told The Collegian the birthday tradition is just one of several ways her friend reaches out to help the less fortunate in the community. Castello also volunteers with the Muscular Dystrophy Association and Saint Agnes Medical Center, and was recognized by District 31 Assemblyman Henry Perea in 2012 as “Woman of the Year” for her efforts.
“It didn’t just start. She’s always been involved through programs like this, or she’s always tried to help everybody,” Sora said. “If they need help, she always wants to be the first one there.”
Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture asked, “What accounts for a diversity of moral commitments?” “Why would one youngster avoid the homeless person and another either help him with money or talk with him about his problems?” Social scientists typically favor a range of background factors, such as race, class, and gender to account for such differences. But against this, the child’s “underlying attachment to a moral culture was the single most important and consistent factor in explaining the variation in their moral judgments.”
Teachers and principals working to strengthen moral and citizenship formation in their students can find information and strategies at the UK’s The Jubilee Centre. In The Jubilee Centre’s own words, the following illustrates how the Centre views it work. “The Jubilee Centre is a pioneering interdisciplinary research centre on character, virtues and values in the interest of human flourishing. The Centre is a leading informant on policy and practice through its extensive range of projects contributes to a renewal of character virtues in both individuals and society.”