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Northridge Couple Delivers Warm Greetings To Schoolchildren PDF Print E-mail
Written by By Alex Garcia   
Thursday, 19 December 2013 00:00

A. Garcia / SFVS

Temperatures in the San Fernando Valley can get pretty cold on winter days, something that can be remedied with a warm jacket. But some children lack them and this can affect their school attendance.

That’s what Randy DiSimone learned three years ago when she had a conversation with a local schoolteacher.

“I sat down next to someone at a table who was a teacher ... during the conversation she said that some of her students don’t go to school when it gets cold, because they don’t have a jacket,” she recalled. “I thought, ‘right here in our own backyard, there are kids who don’t have a jacket.”

The teacher told DiSimone how hard it was to see the kids out on the cold schoolyard without jackets and that she sometimes rubbed her students’ backs trying to create a little warm friction for them when out in the yard.

Prompted by this, the Northridge resident and her husband, Donald, went out and bought 10 new children’s jackets that they took to the school. This was not the first time the DiSimones have shared good fortune with others. In the past they’ve helped the Women’s Cottage and other charitable projects.

In December of last year, they decided to expand on this effort and created a nonprofit group, the Donald and Randy DiSimone Charitable Foundation, which under the DBA name “Hardship2Hope” seeks to fill the needs of low-income communities.

During the summer, the DiSimones – both real estate agents – took $11,000 out of their own pockets to kickstart funding for the foundation and take on its first challenge: providing warm jackets to local school children. They also sent out flyers and asked people for donations, hoping to share in the effort; but they only received a check for $150.

“We didn’t bankrupt ourselves, but we spent a lot more than we expected. But we’ll pick up and learn from there,” Donald said.

The money the DiSimones put into their charitable organization was used to buy 1,200 children jackets that they are delivering to nine Los Angeles Unified School District schools (including four in the Valley – Fernangeles, Kittridge, Camellia and Osceola – and five in South Los Angeles).

On Monday, Dec. 16, they made one of their first deliveries to Osceola Elementary School in Sylmar. Four large boxes with 143 pink (for girls) and striped (for boys) fleece jackets with thick warm lining were unloaded from the DiSimone’s car outside of the school’s gates, where Principal Julie Maravilla thanked them for their generous effort.

“It’s been cold. My kids will be very grateful,” said Maravilla. “I do have a lot of kids that really need them.

“It makes me happy to know they’ll have a jacket whether they’re here in school or at home on vacation,” she added, in reference to the fact this is the final week of school before Christmas break.

The 143 jackets will keep warm half of the 350 children at the school.

Maravilla admitted she was surprised and somewhat doubtful when she got the call from the DiSimone over the holidays telling here about their jacket donation and asking her for sizes and if she would like the clothing.

“I was surprised. We’ve had a school in Chatsworth donate us backpacks, but this is the first time we’ve had somebody donate jackets,” she said.

Donald said the reaction was not unusual.

When he called several of the schools, Donald was told he needed permission from LAUSD officials before making his deliveries. They also told him the jackets needed to comply with certain requirements, among them no tight strings on the hood that could choke a child, and no lead on the zippers.

And something else more important; the DiSimones can only deliver the jackets to the principal, who in turn will take them to the teachers for distribution. The couple can’t pass out the jackets themselves to the students, per LAUSD policy.

That’s alright with them, whose only thanks is knowing children will keep going to school, no matter what the temperature is outside.

“If children don’t learn proficiently by 5th grade, they have a 50 percent more probability of dropping out of school,” Donald said. “We’re just trying to help avoid that.”

For more information or to help the Donald and Randy Di- Simone Charitable Foundation, visit Hardship2Hope.com or call (818) 885-1121.

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Last Updated on Monday, 23 December 2013 01:16