Lions Club Issues Call to Action: Backpacks Needed

This Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Lions Club is collecting donated items that will be given to children entering the foster care system. Donations will also be collected at CV Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the 75th anniversary celebration of the Montrose Search and Rescue team.
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For well over a decade Crescenta Valley Lions Club has been collecting backpacks for children in the Dept. of Children and Family Services (DCFS).


The CV Lions Club’s Kases for Kids program partners with the Los Angeles DCFS to gather backpacks, toiletries, school supplies and other items for children in the DCFS including those in foster care.

“I have been involved in [the program] for five years,” said Kim Sandoval, Lions Club member and chair for the Kases for Kids event.

Although Lions Club is an international organization, Kases for Kids is specific to the CV Club. Members are asking for donations of new, or gently used, backpacks as well as toiletries like toothbrushes, hairbrushes, soap and school supplies. They are also asking for coloring books, stuffed animals and throw blankets.

The time of transition into a foster home can be stressful for children; the donated backpacks will – hopefully – make that transition a little easier. All bags will be filled with donated items.

“It can sometimes be very traumatic when they are leaving their homes,” Neil Zanville, Public Affairs spokesman at DCFS, said in an earlier interview with CVW.

The donations are being gathered on Saturday at the Ralph’s Marketplace parking lot at the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Raymond Avenue from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Donations can also be made at the Prom Plus booth at Crescenta Valley Park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave., during the 75th anniversary of the Montrose Search and Rescue event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Donated items are prepared by CV Lions Club members and then given to Marisela Magana with the Alliance of Relative Caregivers.

Magana is a La Crescenta resident and knows how difficult it can be to navigate the DCFS. She was thrust into the world of foster care when her brother’s children needed support. The mother of the children, her brother’s wife, was addicted to drugs and could no longer take care of the children. That responsibility fell to Magana because her brother was unable to take care of the children either.

She and her husband already had a daughter when they took in the two nephews who both were babies at the time.

“I only had a two-bedroom house at the time,” she said.

Though she had considered it her “forever home” once there were more children the couple knew they had to make adjustments. So they sold their home and moved into a bigger house.

“I was lost in the system,” she said.

The children had special needs and she didn’t know what to do or who to turn to until she found another organization and started getting support.

“When I became strong enough I came into the system and [became] a foster parent,” she said.

She and her husband have fostered 17 kids over the years with children from La Cañada, Pasadena and Santa Clarita.

There have been a lot of struggles and triumphs and Magana takes her responsibilities for these children seriously. She has made it her mission to help others who find themselves facing DCFS issues.

Children can be often taken from their homes in the middle of the night by DCFS representatives after a confrontation between family members and law enforcement. It can be a frightening and chaotic time. Kases for Kids gives children a small level of support that lets them know they are not alone and that people do care about them.

Magana added it is not just young children in the system who need support but also older children who have either been aged out of the foster care system or have been emancipated. These older children often find themselves without support when they leave the system. But they too need support and Magana and the Alliance work to give those children and young adults the tools they need.

For more information on Alliance of Relative Caregivers email Magana at