“Fit for Fall is a back-to-school clothing drive for the underprivileged served families.”

By Robert Airoldi

More than 280 youths from underprivileged families in South Valley got a wonderful start to the new school year. They stepped into the classroom looking stylish. They and their parents picked out a new wardrobe at the Aug. 24 6th Annual Fit for Fall back-to-school clothing giveaway held at the Edward Boss Prado Foundation’s site in Madrone.

The annual event was open to kids from all Morgan Hill Unified School District schools as well as three schools from Gilroy and the Youth Alliance organization in Gilroy and Hollister.

“Fit for Fall is a back-to-school clothing drive for the underprivileged served families,” said Cecelia Ponzini, who heads the nonprofit dedicated in remembrance of her son. “So we put together this event so families can come and get a free haircut, a package of socks, a package of underwear, a backpack and gently-used clothing along with a lot of new clothing.”

Ponzini and a team of volunteers enjoyed interacting with the students, including serving up hot dogs, chips and sodas prepared by the Morgan Hill Kiwanis. Cherisse White, a local salon owner, provided free haircuts. And families also received gift cards to purchase shoes at a local shoe store.

“I do it for the kiddos,” Ponzini said. “I believe the kids feel good when they go back to school with nice clothing, a nice backpack and a fresh haircut. We want all kids to feel special.”

Thanks, Cecelia and your Prado Foundation team, for making life a little easier for local families who are financially struggling.

The Learning and Loving Education Center received a check of $1,565.34 from the Women’s Week organizers at the Sept. 5 Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce breakfast.

Caitlin Jachimowicz, an attorney at Jachimowicz Law Group, Ponzini of the Edward Boss Prado Foundation, Brittney Sherman, the chief operations officer at the chamber, and Katie Khera, who volunteers at seemingly ever nonprofit in Morgan Hill, presented a check to Christa Hanson, the executive director of the center, and board member Jim Yinger.

“This year for Women’s Week we really wanted to put our money where our mouth was and so we decided that the mission for this year would be to support women where they are from all walks of life in Morgan Hill and celebrate everything that they’re doing,” Jachimowicz said.

During the various events held Aug. 26 to 31 to highlight women’s issues, a documentary film called “Half the Sky” was shown that addresses global issues faced by girls and women, she said.  Among them is the need for women’s education to improve the quality of life up an entire community.

“So we decided to raise money for an organization that was doing that work right at home, and that is the Learning and Loving Education Center,” Jachimowicz said

The group provided entry fee money from the movie audience. The Chamber of Commerce also donated all of the tips from the Friday Night Music Series final concert on Aug. 30.

Learning and Loving educates immigrant women in the community. They also have a preschool so children can get prepared for their first day in the classroom.

“For 25 years we have supported immigrant women and empowered them to be the best they can be,” Hannon said. “Part of it is literacy and part of it is skills. We bring in resources so we can provide a wonderful environment for the whole person.”

We encourage others to support the Learning and Loving Center to help women develop their confidence and leadership through literacy and skill-building.

Marty Cheek