CCA student makes annual donation trips to Mexico

Danny An donated to the Ruiz family in Tijuana in early March.
Danny An donated to the Ruiz family in Tijuana in early March.

For over a decade, 17-year-old Carmel Valley resident Danny An has been making yearly trips to Baja California to make donations to families in need.

Danny started the tradition when he was a five-year-old Ocean Air student, along with his mother Gloria and sister Melanie, now at college studying film direction. This fall, Danny will be a senior at Canyon Crest Academy.

The family started making trips to Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada every year typically between the holidays and Jan. 6, which is known as the “Dia de los Reyes” or “Day of the Kings” which is celebrated in Mexico shortly after the Christmas festivities. The holiday is also known as Epiphany and honors the three wise men who brought gifts to baby Jesus.

They began by donating clothes, toys and sporting goods to the orphanage Casa Hogar Siempre Para Los Ninos’ (Always a Home for the Children) in Baja. When Danny and Melanie were in middle school, the Ans started donating directly to familias in colonias. Gloria, who used to be a reporter and anchor with KTLA and Univision, helps the family select a different colonia every year.

This year Danny was able to make possibly his last year trip to Tijuana in February just before the COVID-19 shutdown, donating goods to the Ruiz Family in the Colonia El Florido, a colonia deep in the interior of Baja California that has a high poverty level. With a busy senior year ahead, he is hoping to make a huge donation before he heads off to college.

Danny said he feels very connected to the community and to the families they support. He said giving back in this way has helped shape his personality and his character. As an added bonus, on every trip he takes he also improves on his Spanish-speaking skills.

“I believe my experiences have helped me grow as a person and as a leader because I see the consequences of my actions,” Danny said.