Morongo Helps Brighten the Holidays

Hundreds of local children in protective custody are among those who received a shopping spree funded by the Morongo Band of Mission Indian and organized by Fox 11 News' Rick Lozano.

Laughter filled the air as more than 2,500 low-income children from across the Inland Empire spent this morning dashing through a local toy store in search of their favorite toys during the Christmas Cheer All Year shopping spree, sponsored by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.
Among the children specifically benefitting from the shopping spree were 450 foster children from the San Gorgonio Pass who are in protective custody through the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) Children's Services Division. County funds were not available this year to provide the children with holiday gifts, meaning without Morongo's help, many of children would have gone without a present.
"The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is delighted to be partnering with Christmas Cheer All Year to make holiday dreams come true for thousands of disadvantaged Inland children," said Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin. "In this season of giving, we are especially humbled to be bringing a measure of holiday joy to hundreds of local children who the County is sheltering from abuse and neglect."
Organized by Fox 11 News' Rick Lozano, today's shopping spree at the Toys R Us in Ontario was primarily funded through a donation of $100,000 in cash and services by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, which served as the title sponsor of this year's event.
"Morongo has helped ensure that thousands of children will experience a happy holidays," Rick Lozano said. "To see the smiles on the faces of these kids at a time when so many families are struggling is a true testament to the meaning behind the holiday season."
The low-income children were each given $35 gift cards to purchase the toys of their choosing. Excited children emerged from the store clutching everything from Barbie dolls to stuffed animals, Batman action figures, Lego playsets and video games.
"These tough economic times have forced everyone from families to public agencies to focus on the necessities to stay within their budgets," said Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley. "The Morongo Band of Mission Indians should be applauded for their commitment to making sure the most vulnerable and innocent members of our community  'children in need' won't go without this holiday."
The gifts that many of these children received Tuesday will be the only presents that they receive this holiday season, organizers said.
"This is the first year that we were not going to be able to provide foster children in the County with a holiday gift," said Laurie Fineman, deputy director of children's services at the Riverside County's Department of Public Social Services. "We put out the call for help and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians answered to make sure our kids' holiday dreams came true in the San Gorgonio Pass."
Morongo also transported dozens of children from the San Gorgonio Pass Region to the shopping spree, and provided the kids with breakfast and event T-shirts.
"The families we serve are really struggling as our region continues to experience some of the highest poverty rates in the County," said Josie Coates, program manager of the James A. Venable Community Center in Cabazon. "Morongo has always been there to support our programs and the kids are thrilled to be taking part in this year's shopping spree."
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has a long tradition of giving, and contributes more than $1 million annually to support communities and non-profit organizations across the Inland Empire and Southern California.