Fontana businessman helping struggling teen students: 'We just want to do what's right in the world'

He now helping fund a program at Chaffey H.S. in Ontario that supplies teens in need with backpacks, supplies, food and clothing.

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Saturday, October 2, 2021
Fontana man helping struggling teen students: 'This is our commitment'
An Inland Empire man is using his success to help give back to less fortunate high school students in Ontario.

ONTARIO, Calif. (KABC) -- An Inland Empire man is using his success to help give back to less fortunate high school students in Ontario.

Jorge Merlos grew up in Fontana and attended Etiwanda High School. He said he knows the struggles students are facing very well, especially those whose families struggle financially.

"Life is tough," he said. "Life is difficult. We don't always have it easy. Sometimes we need a helping hand, and we've needed that hand before, and we just want to help kids."

Merlos is a mortgage loan officer, but also runs an online clothing line called SouthPaw Bill.

"A south paw has an awkward stance, right foot forward," said Merlos. "So, we always want to do the right thing in life."

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Merlos said a couple months ago, a family member helped him connect with staff members at Chaffey High School in Ontario who told him about a program they have in which they fill backpacks with school supplies, food and clothing.

Organizers then distribute the backpacks to about 50 students every week. They say the program makes quite a difference for students in need.

"We have parents come in crying," said Leslie Jensen. "They can't even believe we have this program."

Recently, however, donations for the backpack program have waned. When Merlos offered to help, school staff members welcomed his assistance with open arms.

"If it wasn't for people like Jorge, out in the community raising money, we wouldn't be able to do it," said Jensen.

Merlos reached out to his followers on social media, explaining the need to help less fortunate students. In the following weeks, he's helped raise close to $2,000. In addition, he said he's committed to fronting additional costs himself to keep the program going.

"There's so much that goes on in high school: the cliques, the groups. What do you wear? What don't you wear? But these kids have to figure out where they're going to eat and sleep," he said. "It's not fair. So if we can help them, we want to be able to do that. This is our commitment, we'll put up the money. We just want to do what's right in the world."