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No act too small
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jan 01, 2014 | 1815 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Contributed photo -- OneLove 775, a Sparks-based non-profit organization, stuffed backpacks full of school supplies for underprivileged and homeless children in Sparks and Reno earlier this year.
Contributed photo -- OneLove 775, a Sparks-based non-profit organization, stuffed backpacks full of school supplies for underprivileged and homeless children in Sparks and Reno earlier this year.
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Seeing a friend suffer a stroke triggered an unexpected response from northern Nevada resident, and longtime UPS driver, Chad Forrester. The shock of his younger friend lying in a hospital bed brought many emotions to mind, but the one Forrester channeled most was his own selfishness.

Forrester’s feelings set in after a few minutes on Facebook where he saw countless young children volunteering throughout the Reno-Sparks area offering holiday gifts or delivering food to underprivileged or homeless people. Forrester said it “lit a flame” for him.

“Everything I had done in my life I had done for myself,” Forrester said.

That all changed when Forrester loaded his truck with food and headed for ‘Tent City’ in Reno delivering fruit, water and other goods to those in need. The “eye-opening” experience prompted the beginning of OneLove 775, a Sparks-based non-profit organization looking to inspire others to experience the joy of donating time and goods to those less fortunate and helping facilitate those giving opportunities.

“You get to talk to (those less fortunate) and hear the stories,” Forrester said. “Some people want to be down there, some people are on hard times, but it has taught me not to judge someone’s circumstances.”

OneLove has been operational since July and has organized giving opportunities inside Spanish Springs and Sparks High schools, hotels and homeless shelters in downtown Reno and Sparks and much more. The group strays from monetary donations and focuses more on collecting and distributing ‘goods’ for the needy, which Forrester said brings a stronger personal connection to the giver and receiver.

“It is one of the things we struggle with, too,” he said, “Because we will have some people say we have these backpacks or these clothes to donate and ask us to come pick them up. That’s great and we certainly will, but we are trying to get more people to see where it’s going and see who you’re helping. You’re going to see how it is affecting people.”

Armando Corona, OneLove public relations manager and ‘soldier,’ cited a delivery of backpacks to young children on 4th Street as one of many emotional instances of giving. After hosting a backpack-stuffing event at Cantina Los Tres Hombres in Sparks, OneLove soldiers stuffed more than 150 backpacks for Washoe County students and children in need.

“We gave them these backpacks and they just melt with emotion,” Corona said. "That happiness is something you don’t get other than having your own kids. You are giving this child something they have never had because they can’t afford it.”

Corona works alongside Forrester in the “tight-knit” non-profit and has reached out to the Boys and Girls Club, several Sparks and Reno elementary schools and various businesses in the region. He said OneLove was plenty busy during the recent holiday season, but he plans to continue presenting to schools and organizations year round to “spread the love.”

“One thing we try to push with everybody is that homelessness or giving doesn’t just happen at the holidays, it’s year round,” Corona said. “There is always something going on. We are not just here for the holidays, we are here 12 months out of the year in case you need something.

“The holidays are tough because we are all doing our own thing personally, but in my opinion they are really important right now. People are down, maybe getting the holiday blues and this is a way for me to kind of pick up somebody. We can’t help everybody, but we can help somebody and the kids are most important to us.”

Forrester and Corona, along with a few members of the Board of Directors, help “keep each other motivated” to not only seek out new ways to help, but find time to visit and donate to those in need. Forrester said no limits have been set on who can be given to or what can be given, which Corona said makes the organization “more enjoyable” and helps in “spur of the moment” circumstances.

“It could all change tomorrow,” Forrester said, “And that is the way, personally, I want to keep it. I don’t want it to have a box or any restrictions.”

The goal of spreading the love has largely been taken online via Facebook and OneLove can be found at facebook.com/1love775reno. Forrester said organizing, donating and delivering goods to those in need is his mission, but he––and the rest of OneLove––will refrain from taking any credit for continual disbursement of donations.

“I don’t want the recognition or the glory,” Forrester said. “It’s an organization, but it's a movement more than anything. We pass the torch when we need to, and if it has to lay idle for a minute it’s OK. (The need) is still going to be there, unfortunately.

“I have tried to instill that if you need to put the whole OneLove act down for a minute, it’s ok. We don’t need to be almighty all the time. We don’t want to get burned out too quickly because we are still small.”
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