La Jolla-rooted fundraiser will aid Ukraine and Uganda

La Jolla Rotarian Deborah Plotkin started U-Touch in 2010 to provide digital literacy training for orphans in Uganda.
(Courtesy of Deborah Plotkin)

With roots in La Jolla, an upcoming fundraiser that was started to help provide technology training to students in Uganda has expanded its reach to include raising money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine.

The “U-Touch the World” event at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 1, at Powerhouse Park in Del Mar will give participants a chance to run, bike or walk laps. Teams and individuals also can participate from anywhere in the world and donate their earnings.

Many who are taking part are still collecting donations or requesting contributions per lap.

Proceeds from the fundraiser, founded by La Jolla Rotarian Deborah Plotkin, will benefit San Diego-based nonprofit U-Touch, which she started in 2010 to provide digital literacy training for orphans in Uganda.

“I started raising money for Uganda when my daughter was a sophomore at La Jolla High School” in the early 2000s, Plotkin said. “We would sponsor children that were orphaned during the LRA War so they could go to school.”

When she went to Uganda to connect with the students and staff and see how the program was running, she was moved by the conditions there and wanted to do more.

“I listened to the stories, and tears were rolling down my face,” she said. “I formed a bond with these kids. I was fortunate enough to be in the U.S. and have opportunity. There, they had nothing. It was appalling.”

Seeing that there was no flow of information by way of computers, she formed U-Touch, which stands for Universal Technology Outreach Community Hubs, to provide computers and digital literacy training. Since then, more than 6,000 people have been trained, and many of them went on to teach others in their communities.

“If we can change one life, it changes our lives forever.”

— Deborah Plotkin

A U-Touch Club formed at La Jolla High in 2006 and still operates.

“The club has been striving to break the cycle of poverty in Uganda,” said U-Touch Club Vice President Matteya Adams. “The goals of U-Touch include providing opportunities for disadvantaged youth in Uganda to have access to education and technology. The main mission of the club is to fundraise to pay our sponsor students’ tuition.”

Throughout the year, the club puts up posters, talks to classes about its efforts and holds fundraisers. That includes the U-Touch the World event.

Last year, the inaugural U-Touch run/bike/walk raised money for the Uganda effort, and organizers this year opted to include humanitarian assistance for Ukraine amid the current war there. The U-Touch board of directors will decide how the money will be divided.

The U-Touch Club has a team that will participate, but not until May 14 so as to not conflict with AP tests.

Matteya said the 20-member club “is excited to participate in the run/walk/bike-a-thon because it is a good cause and is a fun way to contribute to raising money for the organization. Working toward this goal and fundraiser with our fellow club members who are all familiar with each other holds a very positive atmosphere. It’s an honor to be part of such a worthy cause and an organization that has been around for so long ... making such an important impact on people’s lives.”

Entry fees are $35 to $75. To enter or donate, visit

“I believe the best way of healing is giving and giving of ourselves,” Plotkin said. “If we can change one life, it changes our lives forever. My purpose on this planet is to help others help themselves and make a difference in their lives.” ◆