San Juan Children’s Education Foundation hosts clothing drive

Event supports San Juan Elementary School programs. Aharon Infante/Lariat

The clothing drive supports San Juan Elementary School programs. Aharon Infante/Lariat

The San Juan Children’s Education Foundation held its fifth annual clothing drive on Feb. 6 at San Juan Elementary School. The event was open to the public and offered curbside drop-off due to COVID-19 restrictions. All proceeds go towards funding programs and technology that enhance students’ learning at the school.

The foundation is a parent-run, nonprofit organization that partners with the school’s Parent-Teacher Association to support students and teachers exclusively within San Juan Elementary. From fundraisers like the clothing drive, the foundation has been able to provide teacher grants and music programs, Outdoor Science School and classroom technology for students. 

“From the foundation’s perspective, we just want to give the students opportunities to be successful. The skills they learn here will take them to different places,” said Kari Howell, president of San Juan Children’s Education Foundation. 

San Juan Elementary is a Title I school with many students coming from low-income families. This year’s clothing drive was crucial as the school’s foundation has been struggling to host fundraisers.

“We haven’t been able to fundraise in a whole year,” Howell said.

COVID-19 restrictions have halted many of the foundation’s events, and the clothing drive provided a safe and easy way to keep supporting the school. 

“Everybody’s got stuff to donate, it’s really a way for the entire community to participate in the same fundraiser,” Howell said.

Through the foundation, San Juan Elementary has provided funds to send all of its fifth-grade students to the school’s annual Outdoor Science School at no cost. 

“We want to make sure and provide for our school, be able to give all of the kids the same opportunities that any other kid has,” said Magally Pule, vice president of San Juan Children’s Education Foundation. “Just this last year we bought a bunch of Chromebooks for the school before the shutdown because we needed Chromebooks.”

The foundation partnered up with a third-party organization that donates money for every pound of collected clothes.  

“Through this clothing drive, we’ll use it for more general purposes. The principal has a long list of things the school needs,” Howell said. 

This year, students from Aliso Niguel High School and San Juan Hills High School came to volunteer at the clothing drive by helping unload bags from cars and standing with signs along the road to help guide donors to the location. 

“The clothing drive is one of my favorites because I get to bring alumni that went through the school,” Pule said. 

“It definitely feels like we’re making an impact here,” said Evan Comiskey, senior at Aliso Niguel High School. “This is probably the biggest impact I’ve had on a community through any of my volunteering.” 

This year’s clothing drive accepted new and gently used clothes including shoes, stuffed animals, purses and pillows, according to an official post on the foundation’s Facebook page. Due to health concerns surrounding COVID-19, the foundation decided not to accept any bedding donations with the exception of pillows. The event was open to the public and anyone was welcome to drop-off donations.

The foundation is actively looking for volunteers and sponsors to help support future fundraisers and events for the rest of the 2020-2021 academic school year. All upcoming events and volunteer opportunities are readily available on the San Juan Children’s Education Foundation website and their official Facebook page.