ANAHEIM, Calif. – (Aug. 20, 2015) – Ten children, five from the Bridgeforth family of Menifee, Calif., went back to school in mid-August with brand new clothes, Angels Baseball gear, and photos and memories they will keep forever. Leaders at Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula offered to bring the 10 Inland Empire youngsters, ages five to 14 to Angel Stadium for the team’s annual Back to School Clothing Drive. The children’s parents hoped they would be able to attend a back-to-school shopping event for underserved kids in the Temecula region, but because of high demand for assistance, the 10 were left on a waiting list.
“This has been such an amazing blessing for my husband, me and our family,” said Kieana Bridgeforth, mother of five of the children. “When my kids didn’t get to go to the Temecula ChildSpree, I thought, ‘Oh, man. What are we going to do?’ When I got the call asking if my kids wanted to be a part of the Angels event with Pechanga’s help, I was really grateful. I am grateful. You have no idea how much this helps.”
Mother of 10 children, Kieana says her husband lost his well-paying job two years ago, creating a huge financial hardship for the family. He works now as a dairy delivery person for schools and other institutions, but like about 12-percent of the United States population according to national labor statistics, is underemployed. Kieana works four two-week stints a year at a local auction house.
With the help of the Salvation Army Southwest Riverside County, the kids, charity organization chaperones, and Pechanga volunteers each were handed a snack bag for the ride, boarded the bus at the resort/casino in the morning and made their way to Angel Stadium. When they arrived, the kids were ushered into the stadium’s Exhibition Hall, an area few people ever get to see. They saw rows upon rows of brand new shirts, pants, shoes, socks and underwear. Each received an armful of clothing courtesy of Walmart, as well as some brand new Angels gear and school supplies, just in time for the start of school in three days. During the Friday afternoon outing, the children and volunteers also received lunch and a personal stadium tour.
“The whole day was so fun for me and my sisters and my brother,” said 12-year old Naomi Bridgeforth. “The coolest part was seeing the player locker room and the media room. The clothes are really cool, and I think I’ll be comfortable going back to school in them.”
“When we learned of children being left out and lacking clothes and shoes they need for school, we knew our longstanding partnership with Angels Baseball could open the doors to helping some of those kids in a unique way,” said Patrick Murphy, President of the Pechanga Development Corporation. “Based on their smiles at this shopping spree and Angel Stadium tour, this was a memorable experience.”
“Any time the Angels Baseball Foundation can lend a hand to local youths, we are delighted to be involved,” said Club Chairman, Dennis Kuhl. “In association with our partner Pechanga Resort & Casino, we are thrilled to make a difference in the lives of these children. It is at the core of what our foundation is about.”
The 10 children joined over 400 other underserved kids from Orange County during the Angels Baseball Foundation Back to School Clothing Drive. Riding back to Pechanga on the bus, the kids wore bright smiles, all eager to tell their moms and dads about the day, and show off their brand new clothes on the first day of school.