Annual collection event is being held Saturday at La Crescenta Ralphs parking lot.
By Lillian BOODAGHIANS
On Saturday, July 14, the Crescenta-Cañada Lions Club will hold its third annual Kases for Kids event, an effort to collect suitcases and backpacks filled with toiletries and school supplies for children in the transitional stages of foster care.
“Currently, when children have to leave their home under whatever circumstances, all they get is a trash bag to put their belongings in,” said Art Rinaman, president of the Crescenta-Cañada Lions Club.
Seeing a need for improvement, Lions Club International has taken the lead in attempting to make this time of change for the children smoother and more comfortable, providing them with something to call their own.
Kases for Kids was originally established by the Los Angeles Mid Valley Lions Club four years ago in association with the Los Angeles Department of Children Services. After learning about its purpose, Rinaman decided it was something he wanted the Crescenta-Cañada branch to become involved in.
According to Rinaman, the community involvement factor of Kases for Kids, that it was a public event focused on community involvement rather than fundraising, captured his interest and convinced him the project would be a success.
“I’m not asking people to give money, I’m just asking them to go into their closets and garages and find things they are not using that could be given to people in need,” said Rinaman.
He added that this approach to the project has been very effective over the past few years, collecting over 150 cases annually from the Crescenta-Cañada region alone and close to 400 a year when combined with the Los Angeles Mid Valley Lions Club.
Though he doesn’t expect to receive anything more than people’s now unneeded belongings, Rinaman said he has been pleasantly surprised by the donations.
“What is amazing is that people will rush out to the store and buy things to donate,” he said. “People will see a need and go above and beyond and take the time to buy new items to give to people they don’t know.”
Community dedication and the fact that the event has been so well received has led to the expansion of Kases for Kids to encompass an even larger region of Southern California.
“The Los Angeles Mid Valley Club went to the head of the district and suggested we make this a district wide project. The governors’ board approved it, and now all clubs in the district can and do participate,” said Rinaman.
District 4L1, which reaches from the San Fernando Valley to the desert and Palmdale and up into the Sierra Mountains and Mammoth, covers a great portion of Eastern-Central California, a region Rinaman hopes is large enough to fulfill his eventual goal.
“One day, I hope to have enough donations to fill a semi-truck,” said Rinaman.
Donation drop off is on July 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the La Crescenta Ralph’s parking lot in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard at the corner of Raymond Avenue. Suggested donations include suitcases, with wheels if possible, and backpacks, as well as a small gift of toiletry items, stuffed animals, and/or a blanket.