More than 50 single mothers and single fathers of low-income families from Banning, Cabazon, Hemet, San Jacinto, Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Perris, Sun City, Winchester and Wildomar received gifts for their children during a holiday celebration Dec. 8 at Mt. San Jacinto College, a school spokeswoman said.
The celebration was hosted by the Mt. San Jacinto College Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education Program, according to MSJC spokeswoman Karin Marriott.
The Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians, Soboba Casino and the Soboba Foundation donated 100 toys for the children of CARE program parents, Marriott said.
"The San Jacinto Fire Department escorted Santa, aka Bruce Brady of Mt. San Jacinto College, to the event held in the San Jacinto Campus cafeteria," said Ketmani Kouanchao, director of the CARE program.
Mt. San Jacinto College students who are members of the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa provided face painting for the youngsters, Kouanchao said. Students from the college's "a 2nd Chance" club and the MSJC Black Student Union also helped out.
"It was heartwarming to see Soboba, the city firefighters and our staff and students come together to help make the holidays happier for our families," Kouanchao said. "They really made a difference in the lives of others."
Banning resident Timothy Diaz and her son Silas were among the CARE program families who participated in this year's celebration, Marriott said.
The Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education Program is state-funded and designed to provide assistance and support for single parents, Marriott said. The program's primary goal is to help single parents obtain a degree, certification or marketable job skills.
The program is a supplemental support program of Extended Opportunity Program and Services at Mt. San Jacinto College, Marriott said.