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Morongo Gives 600 Kids Free Shoes, Backpacks and School Supplies


Annual giveaway helps families and kids in need kick off the new school year.

BANNING, Calif. – With the new school year underway, 600 students in need from across the San Gorgonio Pass have received new brand-name athletic shoes and new backpacks stuffed with classroom supplies, thanks to a $50,000 donation from the annual Morongo Charity Golf Tournament.

“We’re excited at Morongo to be helping local kids start the new school year with the supplies and self-confidence they need to succeed,” said Morongo Tribal Council Member Damon Sandoval, who served as the golf tournament’s chairman. “It’s incredible to see all the smiles this program puts on the students’ faces, and we’re thankful to everyone who supported the Morongo Golf Tournament again this year.”

Kids and parents with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Gorgonio Pass recently met on at the Club’s Ramsey Street building in Banning to pick up their free brand-name backpacks filled with notebooks, scissors, pencils, pens, erasers, highlighters and other supplies assembled by Morongo. About 100 middle and high school students also received toiletry items, such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, deodorant and lotion. 

Kimberly Rangel of Banning was among many local parents who said the program not only gets students excited about school, but it helps relieve the financial stress on local families.

“This is a really great program, especially for us working parents,” Rangel said. “If it wasn’t for this program, I don’t know what I’d do. I’d like to say thank you to Morongo for making a big difference in our small town by keeping our kids motivated to stay in school.”

Nearby, 8-year-old Luis Padilla, Jr. of Banning sifted through the school supplies in his new backpack with his sister, Mariana, 12, and 10-year-old Vanessa Hernandez.

“I can’t wait to see my friends with their new stuff too,” Luis said.

His father, Luis Sr., said the kids waited until the first day of school next week to wear their new shoes. “It is great seeing how Morongo is always helping out the community,” he said. 

Amy Herr, chief executive officer of The Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Gorgonio Pass, said the annual program by Morongo provides an important lifeline for many families.

“This is always my favorite day of the year. This program is a real boost to our members’ self-esteem. Some of them have never had a new backpack or new shoes to start the school year, and this gets them super excited about going back to school,” Herr said. “Once again, Morongo is stepping up for local families and we truly appreciate the tribe’s continuing generosity.”

Herr also expressed thanks to the Boys & Girls Club’ teen volunteers, noting that many who were receiving shoes and backpacks from Morongo also helped hand out the items to younger kids at Thursday’s event. 

Since debuting in 1997, the Morongo Charity Golf Tournament has provided more than $1.25 million to programs serving veterans, children, schools and hospitals. The tournament is one of several annual events sponsored by the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which donate more than $1 million annually to local and regional nonprofit organizations.