Arroyo Vista PTA Seeks Donations | Helping Families Impacted by COVID One Year On

The drive is working towards bringing some stability to all school families in South Pasadena

PHOTO: Arroyo Vista PTA | News | With students returning to schools for in-person learning, the need for helping families get back on their feet is crucial

South Pasadena schools need your help!

A donation drive aimed at aiding families negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic is requesting help from the community. Kelly Kwan along with the Arroyo Vista PTA, have begun work on bringing some vital relief.

Though now over a year into major societal shifts, many individuals are still left picking up the pieces from economic downturn and social upheaval, rallying some groups to unite and turn the tide in favor of the struggling class.

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The call for donations is rooted in a project which was initiated 2 years ago, called AV Gives Back, an annual school-wide service aimed at serving struggling families. This year — explains Kwan, who credits AV teacher Mrs. Helena Yee as the generator behind this phase — the endeavors have been specifically geared towards supporting families affected by the pandemic. Providing a ‘Pandemic Resource Guide‘ — and created by Amy DeGaetano and the AV Equity Committee — which consists of “suggested children’s books that address childhood hunger, poverty, homelessness; kid-friendly talking points so families can have a deeper discussion; and specific ways to help those in need”, they are now taking it a step further. The team of parents and students are looking to cover all types of necessities families require to survive during a cloudy economic climate, seeking the help of others through donations and volunteerism.

A founder of the non-profit organization, Good SamariTotsa South Pasadena-based organization with 7 additional chapters in California and Arizona, Kwan says that now is the time most imperative to show some generosity for those in dire financial straits. This is also an excellent opportunity to teach our kiddos how to identify and address needs within our city that, I believe, is critical to a healthy community,” she told the South Pasadenan News.

Explaining her connection to the cause, Kwan says that her organization has worked with several schools in the past and has a daughter in 2nd grade at Arroyo Vista while also serving as the PTA Community Outreach chair for a few years. Some of the other projects the group has launched include “making blankets for hospitalized children via Project Linus, assembling Spring Break Food Packs for students with a need in the Alhambra School District, and making valentines for senior residents at the South Pasadena Care Center.”

Parents and residents are encouraged to participate, but one unique angle is the emphasis on youth involvement in charitable work, the modus operandi of Good SamariTots. “There is a specific need for children’s clothing in this drive, which is a good opportunity for grownups to discuss the importance of giving items we no longer use to those that have a need,” explains Kwan, who believes it paramount to teach empathy at an early age.

Currently, there are nearly 10,000 households with an average 2.6 persons per home in South Pasadena, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Census data from 2019 shows 7.6% of the city’s approximately 26,000 population lives in poverty, putting it just below the national average of 9.2 %. Factoring in the Federal Poverty Level for LA County, averaged at $21,960 for a 3-person household; the City of South Pasadena’s most up-to-date median house price, estimated at $2.4 million; a median household income of $104,308.00; a healing unemployment rate of 6.9% in November, down from the considerably high rate of 16.4% in May 2020; and an ongoing battle for renters rights, the optics are not particularly ideal and suggest a financial ecosystem emblematic of the economic disparities between residents of a city that prides itself over the merits of its middle-class.

Stack these statistics up with that of a 2018 study published by the Public Policy Institute of California, which estimates 1/3 of California’s population were already living below the poverty line, of which the rate may even be higher “when key family needs and resources are factored in.” Additionally, a five-part polling series conducted between July and August 2020 jointly provided by NPR, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation states: “At least half of households in the four largest U.S. cities—New York City (53%), Los Angeles (56%), Chicago (50%), and Houston (63%)—report serious financial problems including depleted savings, and trouble paying bills or affording medical care.”

Consider the amalgamation of the figures presented and COVID’s own set of unique problems, and its enough to make one’s head spin. Trying to process an issue that continues to morph on a daily basis, Kwan surmises, “It’s hard to gauge the number of families hard-hit by the pandemic in South Pasadena, but I have no doubt it’s a lot” and while some may be under the assumption that some financial restitution is on the horizon, she also errs on the side of caution, arguing that “we’re only just beginning to see the financial effects of the pandemic and (we) anticipate a growing need for donations in our community.”

At first planned to benefit primarily Arroyo Vista families, the project has now widened its scope to all families in South Pasadena. They have also secured a pop-up Community Donation Center at Oneonta Church for which “space has been graciously donated”, says Kwan, who adds that they have already begun enlisting volunteers in the process. “Anyone interested in donating, volunteering, receiving donations, or ideas and resources to discuss community needs with their children can contact me directly!” she exuberantly beckons. 

For those interested, there are several ways that anyone can help:

  • Donate staples (non-perishable food, toilet paper, toiletries, cleaning products, etc.)
    • Food (fresh, frozen or canned)
    • Boys clothing (sizes 5T to 8/10)
    • Boys shoes (sizes 12 to 1)
    • Juniors/Women’s clothing (sizes S/M)
    • Women’s shoes (Sizes 5 to 6.5)
    • Shampoo and Conditioner
  • Donate time (this is a great project for teens in need of community service hours or families that would like to do a service project together!)
  • Donate gift cards (Target and local grocery stores)

For those interested in helping, contact

Click here for information about AV Gives Back and here for GoodSamaritots.