Nonprofit creates 'senior success baskets' for homeless, foster care students

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Saturday, April 20, 2024
Nonprofit creates 'success baskets' for homeless, foster care students
Recipients of these baskets are a group of graduates in the Corona-Norco Unified School District who are homeless or in the foster care system.

CORONA, Calif. (KABC) -- A local nonprofit wants to make sure underprivileged high school students have all the essentials they need once they graduate.

That's why the nonprofit L.I.F.T created "senior success baskets," care packages stuffed with an impressive array of gifts - from laptops to bicycles - to help students prepare for their next step in life.

The recipients of these baskets are a special group of graduates in the Corona-Norco Unified School District (CNUSD) who are either in the foster care system or homeless.

"It's not that rare - we've got 73 seniors in this district who will graduate this year after facing incredible obstacles like lack of permanent housing, living in a motel, living in a car," L.I.F.T. board treasurer Ashlee Caira said.

The school district works with L.I.F.T and the Parent Center to find potential donors who are given a chance to sponsor a graduating senior.

"It's amazing they're able to take that next step, and we want them to know the community is rooting for them," Caira said. "We're really proud of the work they've done in order to graduate."

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, data from the 2022-2023 school year shows as many as 7,868 students were living in shelters, hotels, or were unhoused.

"Some are going to the military, some are going to college, some are going to a trade school and some are just ready to work. However long they're here with us at Corona-Norco, we want to prepare them for whatever their dreams are," foster youth liaison Jenna Mendez said.

Donors like Matt and Jenny Griffin had no idea the need existed.

"This is something we can really participate in and contribute to help these kids have a better opportunity," Matt Griffin said.

The nonprofit goes beyond seeking out physical donations - donors have also gifted seniors in special ways, like purchasing "grad night" Disneyland tickets and donating money for yearbooks.

It's all done in an effort to ensure these students don't get to miss out on precious senior year memories due to their living situation.

"Just like a parent that's excited to send their kid off to college, or excited to send their kid off to this next stage of life, we want them to know there's an entire community out there that's rooting for them to be successful," Caira said.

To donate to a senior success basket, you can make a contribution on L.I.F.T's website.