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Morongo Gives 800 Kids Free Shoes, Backpacks and School Supplies

Annual giveaway helps families and kids in need start the new school year on the right foot.

BANNING, Calif. – Eight hundred students from across the San Gorgonio Pass received new brand-name shoes and backpacks stuffed with school supplies on Monday as part of an annual program funded by the Morongo Charity Golf Tournament to aid children and families in need.

Kids and their parents with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Gorgonio Pass met on Monday at Pass Valley Park in Banning to pick up their free shoes and backpacks packed with pencils, pens, binders and other classroom supplies. The program is funded by the 20th annual Morongo Charity Golf Tournament, which raised $70,000 in June to purchase the items for local students.

“At Morongo, we believe education is the key to success and that every child should have the tools and support they need to perform at their absolute best in school,” said Morongo Tribal Council Member Damon Sandoval, who served as the golf tournament chairman. “It’s humbling to see how this program helps local kids and their families, and our thanks go out to all the players and sponsors who have supported the annual Morongo Golf Tournament for the past 20 years.”

Brenda Canales of Banning was among many local parents who expressed appreciation for the assistance with school starting in just two weeks.

“The Boys and Girls program is great and Morongo helping families out like this is a huge blessing,” Canales said. “It’s great that Morongo gives back to the community.”

Nearby, 8-year-old La’Chelle Taylor of Banning carefully examined the school supplies in her new bright green backpack as she sat in the shade with her four siblings and cousins.

“I got lots of cool stuff,” La’Chelle said, explaining that she can’t wait for school to start. “”I like doing math a whole bunch at school.” 

Her aunt, Janet Johnson, said the children have been excited all week about the event, adding, “This is beautiful and it’s really helpful for single moms. It’s hard to buy three pairs of name-brand shoes and three backpacks every year, so this helps a lot.” 

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

“The days when the kids are given their backpacks and we help them pick out a brand new pair of shoes are by far my favorite days of the entire year,” Herr said. “Many of our members have 

never started a school year with a new backpack, or had the experience of picking out new shoes, and this program helps boost their self confidence. The generosity of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians is incredible, and their dedication to our community and its children is very much appreciated.”

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.


Photo 1: Eight-year-old La’Chelle Taylor of Banning shows off some of the free school supplies she received from Morongo which gave new shoes and backpacks to 800 local school children on Monday.

Photo 2: Banning twin sisters Bianca and Sophia, both 6, show the new shoes and backpacks they received from Morongo on Monday.

Photo 3: Amy Herr, (left), chief executive officer of The Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Gorgonio Pass and Morongo Tribal Council Member Damon Sandoval (far right) with some of the 800 children and parents who received shoes and backpacks from Morongo on Monday.