SAN DIMAS/LA VERNE – La Verne Police Detective Janessa Gonzalez and La Verne Firefighter/Paramedic Tristan Janeway trailed behind eager Bonita Unified elementary students at Target La Verne, taking note and filling handbaskets with each child’s choice of brightly patterned jackets, stylish shoes and other clothing essentials during the annual Bonita Children’s Shopping Day on Sept. 14.
This is the first year Gonzalez and Janeway had the opportunity to participate in the shopping experience, a collaboration between Bonita Unified School District and Soroptimist International of San Dimas/La Verne that provided nearly 70 students in need from the District’s eight elementary schools with a $75 budget to pick out new school clothing basics.
The event recruits retired educators and volunteers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the La Verne police and fire departments, and the Knights of Columbus to assist the students, providing guidance and ensuring the correct sizes and items are selected.
“I previously served as the school resource office in La Verne schools, so it was exciting to get to spend some time with students again and support them in a fun way,” said Gonzalez, who is also an alumna of Bonita Unified School District. “It was really rewarding to see and hear how happy the students were. These events are so important because they allow children, especially those in need, to have positive interactions with law enforcement and know that we’re here to help them in any way we can.”
Janeway assisted two girls with their selections, walking hand in hand through the aisles and listening intently as they shared their likes and dislikes, and providing feedback and suggestions on their choice of jackets, shirts and skirts. Like Gonzalez, Janeway said he was touched by the appreciation and enthusiasm of the students.
“I got into this job to help the community, and this event is just one more way for public servants like us to give back and do good for others,” Janeway said. “It was an honor to be able to spend time with these students and to see the joy on their faces. Being able to brighten their day, really brightened my day.”
The shopping spree is funded through a combination of donations, fundraisers and grants garnered by members of the Soroptimist International of San Dimas/La Verne. The organization, which consists of professional women, aims to advance human rights, uplift those in need, and support programs that result in fundamental change for women and girls through economic empowerment.
Bonita Unified Board of Education Clerk Chris Ann Horsley, who also serves as the president of Soroptimist International of San Dimas/La Verne, said the shopping day is a demonstration of the power of community coming together.
“This is a truly collaborative effort; from our school administrators identifying students who may need assistance and the school secretaries connecting with families to get them on board, to wonderful women in Soroptimist who work all year to raise funds for this opportunity and the volunteers who spend their morning making connections with these students,” Horsley said.” It’s a really special day and we’re grateful to everyone who donates their time and money to ensure that Bonita Unified students have the support they need.”
After their purchases were completed, students were treated to a light breakfast, coloring and cartoons in the Target staff lounge. Certain students were also provided new backpacks, selected with input from Bonita Unified Senior Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Jaymi Abusham and Board of Education President Glenn Creiman.
BUSD_SHOPPINGDAY1: Bonita Unified Senior Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction Jaymi Abusham helps a student select a backpack during the Bonita Children’s Shopping Day at Target La Verne on Sept. 14. The event provides elementary students in need with school clothing and supplies.
BUSD_SHOPPINGDAY2: La Verne Firefighter/Paramedic Tristan Janeway shares a high-five with a Bonita Unified student after helping her select clothing essentials during the annual Bonita Children’s Shopping Day, which is funded by Soroptimist International of San Dimas/La Verne.
BUSD_SHOPPINGDAY3: The annual Bonita Children’s Shopping Day, a collaboration between Bonita Unified School District and Soroptimist International of San Dimas/La Verne, recruits volunteers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the La Verne police and fire departments, and the Knights of Columbus to help students in need shop for clothing. This year’s event supported nearly 70 students from the District’s eight elementary schools.