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Monrovia's Foothill Unity Center Provides School Supplies to 1,100 Students

After months of planning and work by Center staff, over 700 volunteers and a mass of community supporters, some 1,100 preregistered local K-12 children of very low income families got the backpacks, school supplies and clothing they needed to start the school year with confidence.

Throughout the day-long event at Santa Anita Park racetrack in Arcadia, a circle of support surrounded the excited youngsters every step of the way, as DJ Party Pros kept kids, parents and volunteers dancing. Hundreds of volunteers worked the event, staffing distribution tables for everything from uniforms and shoe vouchers to notebooks and calculators. Each child wore a “passport” lanyard with check-offs to make sure no one missed a single table.

Citrus College cosmetology students contributed a full day of haircutting and manicure services. Monrovia Reads and A Foundation for Kids gave new grade-appropriate books to every child.

Health connections were a major feature. The Ostrow School of Dentistry for USC offered free dental screenings, singling out children with the most urgent needs to be treated at the Center’s Mobile Dental Clinic this winter. SafetyBeltSafe U.S.A. gave families hands-on demonstrations of how to use seat belts and install car seats and booster seats, and gave free booster seats to qualified families.

Attendees also got access to information direct from an array of health resources, including American Red Cross, CalFresh, CHAP Care, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Community Alliance of Pasadena, Department of Social Services, HEAR Center, Methodist Hospital, Monrovia Health Center, Options Child Care Services, Pacific Clinics, Pasadena Public Health Department and URDC/Bill More Community Clinic.

Fun was everywhere, as kids lined up to see a model Mars rover from Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) and learn about Exelis 3-D Deep Space Exploration. Other popular destinations included hands-on ceramic art projects with Paint N Play, the Southern California Edison Big Truck display, and fire engines and crew members from the Arcadia and Monrovia Fire Departments. A snack center featured egg rolls from Panda Restaurant Group and popcorn from LA Partyworks.

The Center still needs funds to cover the cost of the massive event, which is paid for annually by donations from hundreds of local individuals, companies and organizations. Support is also needed to underwrite the upcoming Mobile Dental Clinic for which children were screened at the event.

Key sponsors to date include Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, LA Party Works, Marshall’s/TJX Companies, Monrovia Reads, Monrovian Family Restaurant, Panda Restaurant Group, Santa Anita Park, Southern California Edison Company, The Outlet by E.L.S., Vons Foundation and Wells Fargo Foundation.

Other supporters include 3M Company, Athens Services, Avery Office Supplies, Bowden Development, Inc., Burrtec, California Pizza Kitchen, City of Monrovia, Custom Comfort Mattress, Duarte Transit, Foothill Unity Center Auxiliary, Lakeshore Learning Materials, Monrovia Transit, Pacific Clinics, Red Lobster Restaurant, Southern California Gas Company, Starbucks and The Gables Monrovia.

“79% of our clients have incomes at or below the National Poverty Level,” said Center Executive Director Betty McWilliams. “Many are employed, but don't get the pay they need to survive without help. This event helps them send their children back to class with the new items they can’t afford to provide — and helps these kids start the school year on a level playing field.”

Source: Foothill Unity Center press release

- Brad Haugaard

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