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Pandemic creates volunteer opportunities for Brandeis High School students | Kids Who Make SA Great

Alan Koroluk realized the pandemic has led to meager volunteer opportunities for students. So, he and two friends created a non-profit organization for students.

SAN ANTONIO — Sophomore year for Alan Koroluk came with its challenges at Brandeis High School. The unknown consequences of a full-blown pandemic seemed endless to what he and others knew as student life.

In-person school, athletics and more fell victim to COVID-19. Add volunteering to the casualty count.

"I realized that if I had the same problem, other students around me would have the same problems as well," Koroluk said.

He needed volunteer hours to fulfill his requirements as a member of the National Honor Society. So, Storm Castro, Josiah Almanza and Koroluk decided to do something about it.

"I remember our meetings at coffee shops and each other's houses joking about obtaining one million hours of volunteering," Castro said.

The 18-year-old BHS senior became an eyewitness to the organization's growth from embryonic to now.

"At this point, one million hours seems like just the beginning," he said.

Their idea cloud put their contingency on the creator's block. The result is a non-profit called Take Action Volunteer (TAV).

"It's cool to volunteer at other places like the Food Bank or Habitat for Humanity," Koroluk said. "We are an organization tailored into helping the youth itself."

According to Koroluk, the group's name is a call to take action, to be exact.

"I wanted the name to be something that was generic but precise," He said.

Founded in 2020, three members have now grown into 35. Now, Koroluk hopes to expand to other high schools and possibly the university level when he attends college. 

TAV put on dodgeball competition in December. Five teams with five members each competed on the field of the O.P. Schnabel Park.

Credit: Take Action Volunteer
Brandeis High School students participated in the Take Action Volunteer Dodgeball competition in December championing a charity.

"I was definitely not expecting something as fun, and ordinary as a dodgeball game turn into a game that can create a difference," Kristen Fuentes said.

According to the 17-year-old BHS senior, TAV is a great way to get involved and give back to the community. She was on 'The Front Street Blazers' who played for the Kids in Need Foundation.

Other teams named the Weiner Dogs, Money Shot, Bing Bong, and The B's dodged balls for UNICEF and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

Brandeis junior Jesse Martinez said the TAV event meant a lot to him. It gave him a chance to support a friend and a worthy charity.

"Everyone who participated in the event was able to have fun and compete while it also benefited the charities that partnered up for the event," Martinez said.

Fuentes said she is excited to see what TAV has to offer to the community in the future.

Athletic benevolence is not TAV's only way to help others. The student-run organization is putting together a school supply drive for students at the Texas-Mexico border.

"Pretty much anything that a student might need to succeed at school," Books, markers, school supplies, backpacks."

Credit: Take Action Volunteer
TAV wraps box for school supply drive to benefit students on the US-Mexico border.

The drive is special to Koroluk for personal reasons. His last name is the product of his Dallas-born mother's marriage. He said his name is Alan De La Fuente.

"My mom divorced at a very young age," he said. "I was an immigrant from Mexico. I didn't speak any English when I came here."

The high school senior said he could not find a TAV-like organization to help him. His mother is an attorney, and Koroluk said it's a single-parent household where he's trying to excel and help mom too.

"Very similar to his experience, You know, when I'm growing up, when I was growing up, I didn't have a lot of guidance," Miguel Silva said. "As far as like what comes next after high school, I was the first one in my family to go to college."

Silva is an AP teacher and Cross country coach at Brandeis High. The husband and father of a newborn also found time to sponsor TAV. He saw himself in Alan.

"I saw somebody that was hungry for knowledge," he said.

Silva said he encourages the students to believe in what they seek to accomplish. It's a seed Koroluk believes he can harvest.

"No matter who you are. No matter where you come from – that you're born with everything that you have to succeed," Koroluk said.

Koroluk said students are reaching out to schools along the border to receive the spoils of their drive. Meantime, he hopes TAV can get boxes out in the Northside Independent School District for donations.

"And even if for some reason it wasn't successful, I want him to try," Silva said. "That's what I tell my kids all the time and never, never say you can't do something without trying first."

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