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June 23, 2021

Small Steps takes a huge leap to help local kids

Nearly 350 underprivileged San Benito County children were able
to buy winter coats and shoes Saturday morning thanks to
fund-raising by local organization Small Steps.
Hollister – Nearly 350 underprivileged San Benito County children were able to buy winter coats and shoes Saturday morning thanks to fund-raising by local organization Small Steps.

In its seventh annual “shopping spree” event, Small Steps gave 342 local school kids – its largest group ever – $75 each to spend on winter clothing at Target and Payless Shoe Source. Children were nominated by their teachers to participate, ensuring the most needy kids were the ones to receive help, according to Small Steps’ Sally Silva.

“We go to all the public schools in the county and ask teachers to choose children from their class that they know would benefit from warm clothing. In the beginning the families filled out applications, but then we realized that we didn’t know the children whose applications we were reviewing. The people who saw them every day were the teachers,” said Silva.

This is Small Steps’ only yearly event, so “All of the money donated goes to the children,” Silva said.

The Intero Real Estate Foundation was a major sponsor of this year’s event. Intero Real Estate donated $10,000 through its Intero Foundation, which raises money exclusively for children’s charities, according to Intero’s Sharon Johnson. Johnson represented the Hollister Intero offices at foundation board meetings in 2003, and proposed making the donation to Small Steps.

“With the closing of each home that is sold, our agents make a donation to the foundation,” Johnson said, adding that the amount of the donation is left up to the individual agent.

“Everyone in our office voted to send the money to Small Steps,” Johnson said.

Donations from local residents were also essential to the success of this year’s event, according to Silva.

“The funding has just been phenomenal. We just put ads in the paper saying ‘Make a tax-deductible donation’ and they just started pouring in,” Silva said. “We’ve been very lucky because the community has always been so generous that we’ve been able to have as many kids as needed” the funds, she said.

This year, Small Steps was able to spend a total of $25,650 on the event, which also received assistance from Target, Payless Shoe Source, and McDonald’s. Target and Payless each gave Small Steps children a ten percent discount on the day’s purchases, and McDonald’s donated about 350 Egg McMuffins for the children after their 6:30am shopping spree, Silva said.

Silva said Small Steps is thrilled with the success of this year’s shopping spree, and is especially grateful to all of the volunteers who helped out at the massive event, which she said drew about 1,000 kids, parents, and volunteers to the Target parking lot Saturday morning.

Last year, the organization was able to fund shopping trips for 229 children.

This year’s group was “the largest group we’ve ever had,” Silva said. “We’ve always been afraid to go larger in the past because we didn’t know if we could handle it logistically. But after this year, I guess the sky’s the limit!”

Jessica Quandt is a staff writer for the Free Lance. Reach her at 831-637-5566 ext. 330 or at [email protected]

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