Community Effort: YMCA, Seven Arrows and Residents Provide Backpacks

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Kids were happy with new backpacks. made possible through the Palisades YMCA.

Members of the Palisades-Malibu YMCA joined with the Antelope Valley YMCA in Lancaster to hand out school backpacks filled with school supplies and snacks to local elementary school children and their families on December 18.

Palisades-Malibu YMCA Board members Dr. Anita Hanssen and Genevieve Bostic and Y Executive Director Jim Kirtley delivered the backpacks, filled with supplies that had been assembled at the Y on Via de la Paz.

“The families were so thankful for the donated items, and the children were so happy and grateful for their gifts,” Hanssen said. “It was a very moving experience to be part of this event, and a true validation of how special it is to make a difference to those in need. The children’s smiles were in abundance and the holiday cheer was in the air!”

Thanks to one outstanding Seven Arrows sixth-grade student, Matteo Correa de Toledo, the backpacks were filled with holiday cheer.

For his Ethical Leadership Project, Correa de Toledo set a goal of providing supplies for 300 backpacks. He enlisted the support of each grade of the K-6 private school (located on La Cruz and on Haverford), and each grade was tasked with a specific item. Cash donations ($30) instead of school supplies were also suggested.

Seven Arrows students are allowed autonomy in selecting causes “that are close to their heart and mind,” said Fiona Farrahi, Seven Arrows Director of Marketing. “In this case, Matteo chose the Y.”

Farrahi explained that ethical leadership is woven into Seven Arrows education and students are encouraged to be positive contributors to the world. “They can advocate solely or enlist the support of our community anytime of the year.”

In addition to the backpacks filled with school supplies, families also received a bag of sanitary toiletry items.

The backpacks themselves were donated by longtime friends of Kirtley, Brian and Sarah Underwood. Additionally, Amazon had approached Kirtley about the Reading Is Fundamental program — and through the Palisades store, reading kits were also donated.

Y Board Director Maryam Zar said that she had partnered with Kirtley and the executive director of the Antelope Valley Y for the distribution and gave a special thanks to Seven Arrows Head of School Margarita Pagliai.

Zar said the Y has helped vulnerable populations during the Covid 19 pandemic, including a weekly grocery giveaway. The backpack delivery “was the latest effort,” she said. “The community should be proud of the work and the reach of their local Y.”

YMCA Volunteers assembled 300 backpacks on Via de la Paz.

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