Vittorio Ristorante & Pizzeria, the Sons of the American Legion and American Legion Post 283 Auxiliary is teaming up with Claris Heath to offer a beach day on Saturday, July 23, for kids who live in the Lost Angeles area, but have never gone.
Claris Health, a community-based nonprofit that has been serving the community since 1976 offers health services, screenings and social services referrals to communities, such as Leimert Park, Vermont Harbor, South LA, Hollywood, Echo Park, Inglewood, Long Beach, Compton, Watts, and Lynwood.
The idea for a day at the beach came from Vittorio owner, Vanessa Pellegrini, who every December hosts a special luncheon and provides gifts for less fortunate children and teens.
She said that the chaperones told her about an incident on the bus ride to last year’s luncheon, which was held at the restaurant on Marquez.
The kids, who were from Lynwood, were on a bus to the Palisades for the December luncheon. As the bus came out of the McClure tunnel, “The kids on the right side of the bus RAN to the left side because they had NEVER seen the ocean. Apparently, the yells and screams were deafening!
“When the administrators and the rest of the holiday crew heard this, we were in disbelief,” Pellegrini said. “How could you live 10 miles away from the Pacific Ocean and never go?! Crazy for us since we see it every day and take it for granted, but for them…a spectacular event. Truly humbling….and from this story and incident came our call to action.”
The idea was pitched to Claris, who was on board, but then the challenges started.
“We found out that not only most of the parents/guardians not have a car, but a majority didn’t have a license or even know how to drive,” Pellegrini said, noting the reason the kids had never been to the beach, started to make sense. “The bus takes you to Santa Monica, but it’s quite a trek, and well, bringing the family and a picnic basket may prove to be too much for families who are barely putting food on the table.”
It became apparent a bus was needed and money raised. The bus will hold 100 and priority will be given to those who have never been to a beach. Parents will be invited, and waivers will have to be signed.
Volunteers will set up games and there will be a tent for First Aid and a nurse on duty. Pellegrini would like to give all the participating kids a backpack that includes a beach towel, sand toys, sunscreen and water.
The restaurant will donate lunches to the volunteers and bring extras for families who forgot or need lunch/snack/drinks.
If a resident would like to help Pellegrini, the Auxiliary and the Sons, give these kids a day at the beach, contact her at Vittorios Ristorante & Pizzeria, 166646 Marquez Avenue. (310) 459-9316.