Christmas is a time when many people give-- but not everyone is always fortunate enough to receive.
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians stepped up to the plate again this year, though, to help many more "receive" by donating $100,000 in cash and services for a giant shopping spree, according to tribe spokesman Michael Fisher.
Through their annual participation in the Christmas Cheer All Year holiday shopping spree on Thursday, 1,500 disadvantaged Inland children were able to go shopping at the Toys R Us in Ontario for their pick of $35 worth of gifts, Fisher said.
“It was totally awesome,” 11-year-old Ronnie T. said of the shopping spree where she picked out an Orbeez remote control Ladybug Scooper and several other items. “We got a lot of toys.”
More than 450 of those children came from the San Gorgonio Pass and the Coachella Valley, according to Fisher. Several of those were treated with breakfast and transportation to the event, many leaving from the James A. Venable Community Center in Cabazon.
“Our community is suffering with some of the highest poverty and unemployment rates in the region. Many of the families we serve are struggling just to provide necessities,” said Josie Coates, center manager of the Venable Community Center. “The annual shopping spree is just one of the many ways that Morongo supports our local community and local families.”
Also helped were dozens of kids who are currently in the care of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS).
"Without Morongo’s help, these children would have gone without a present, county officials [told us]," Fisher said.
Children who got to go shopping were pre-selected by local non-profits and social service groups, according to Fisher.
The whole program was founded by Fox 11 journalist Rick Lozano, according to Fisher.
“Every year, we can count on Morongo and our partners in the community to help bring happiness to the hearts of local children whose families are struggling through tough times,” Lozano said. “Morongo continues to help make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged children.”