More than 350 children benefit from the Edward Boss Prado Foundation
Published in the September 13 – September 26, 2017 issue of Morgan Hill Life
Hundreds of underserved Morgan Hill children will sit in their elementary school classrooms spruced up with new clothing, backpacks and haircuts thanks to the Edward Boss Prado Foundation’s Fit for Fall supplies giveaway last month.
The third annual event brought an estimated 350 low-income students and their parents or guardians to the Cecelia’s Closet site in the Madrone district Saturday, Aug. 26. They visited various tables manned by volunteers and received gently-used shirts, pants, blouses, brand-new underwear and socks, and a backpack to carry their school books and supplies. Local barber Vince de Leon from the Barberinos Backroom Barber Shop gave the children stylish haircuts to look cool in class.
A team of men volunteers wearing cute cupcake-themed aprons assisted the families after they arrived and checked in to find the items they needed. Among them was Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Steve Betando who praised Cecelia Ponzini, the woman who started the foundation to assist local families in need. The foundation was named in the memory of her son.
“What a wonderful tradition that Cecelia has built here. Every year there are families who look forward to it and new families come. It gets bigger and bigger,” Betando said. “It’s really a connection between the community that has donated all the clothes and the new underclothes and the families come in and get their kids a fresh start at the beginning of the school year.”
Many of the nearly 90 volunteers were elementary school principals and teachers from the MHUSD.
“We have many people who work with the kids in the schools every day,” Betando said. “Some people have gotten into situations where they need to get some help and this gives the kids pride when they come back to the classroom with their new clothes.”
The community showed its desire to make sure all children feel a sense of pride when they step into the classroom by wearing the quality clothes donated for the Fit for Fall event, he said.
“At a time when there are a lot of shifts in family dynamics, there might be some single parents or guardians or foster parents who need a little extra help — and this does it for them,” he said. “Giving back to the community is one of those things that makes this community special and unique. From San Martin to south San Jose, we have kids who are homeless here and people who reach out to help.”
As a line of youngsters and adults formed outside the Cecelia’s Closet distribution site, Ponzini expressed her appreciation for the donations and the volunteers who spent their time with the foundation working to make the South Valley region a better place for all families.
“The meaning of the day is for the families in real need to be able to start the kids off with nice clothing, a brand-new backpack, socks and underwear so that they feel good about themselves and they fit in with the other kids,” she said. “All the elementary schools send us the list of the families who are underserved and maybe families on the free lunch programs or food stamps, so they put the list together and they send it to us and the child’s parent’s name and they come and check in. Anything a child needs to wear to school, we have it. I want these kids to have dignity and feel like everyone else and have a good time as children.”
Prado Foundation events such as Fit for Fall receive some funding from the annual An Evening with the Boss Gala. The second annual gala was held June 23 at the Granada Theater where attendees mingled and danced with Bay Area professional football players as they listened to “Rat Pack” style live music performed on stage.
“The money we made will carry us for the whole year,” Ponzini said. “We’re the organization that only asks once a year. We do not ask throughout the year because I want to make sure you support me next year. There are so many wonderful organizations in Morgan Hill. There are a lot of them, and everyone wants to support them so we only ask once a year — and I’m happy to say we did very well.”