Annual La Puente event gives shoes, inspiration
Photo Gallery: Fourth annual Aldabella Scarpa Giveback event
Hundreds of elementary girls started the new school year this week with a brand new step.
More than 300 girls from Villacorta, Northam and Hurley elementary schools in La Puente received a new pair of shoes at the fourth annual Aldabella Scarpa Giveback back-to-school event on
"When the girls get their shoes in those nice shoe boxes, it's almost like Christmas. Their eyes sparkle, they have big smiles from ear to ear," said Villacorta principal John Martinez. "(On the first day of school), these girls will have these beautiful shoes and it's the perfect way to fill them with confidence, the perfect way to start the school year."
With the help of sponsors and community donations, the students also received backpacks filled with school supplies, a free taco lunch by Taco Nazo, cupcakes by The Cake Mamas and more during Friday's event.
"The shoes are nice. I'm glad they give them out," said Juliana Vasquez, 10.
"I hope the shoes motivate them more," said Isabel Perez of La Puente whose daughter Jasmine, 7, is starting second grade.
Sisters Ann Marie Smith and Monica Gonzales, owners and shoe designers of the Covina boutique, Aldabella Scarpa, were also students at Rowland Unified School District schools and enjoy giving back to their community.
"We couldn't have (been successful) without this incredible school and our parents," Gonzales said to the audience as she introduced her mother and father present at the event. "Parents, you are the best examples for your children," she continued.
Gonzales and Smith said they learned as young girls to be giving. As children, they picked out clothes and shoes at stores and would travel to cities in Mexico and donate the items and food to families in need there.
The duo decided they would continue giving when they started their business. Aldabella Scarpa donates a pair of "I Matter" tennis shoes to disadvantaged youths for every pair sold in stores, providing relief in tough economic times.
"We decided we're going to start here," said Gonzales.
To continue with the messages written on the shoes - "Believe," "I Matter," "Imagine" - the event also featured guests with their own inspirational stories.
Outgoing Rowland Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Maria Ott; Josefa Salinas, successful author and Morning News Anchor from Hot 92.3 FM, and others offered their messages of support to the girls and their families.
"You can be anything you want to be if you work hard," said Ott. "As you get ready to go back to school, I want you to think every time you put these shoes on, to do your best in school."
The sisters said the event has grown since its first year, with more vendors offering their resources and giving, as well as the number of students helped.
"We're also trying to develop a culture - if you give, you get back," said Smith. "You can't do this alone. Try to teach the parents that we're here to help you; we've been here before."
The event featured a variety of booths with treats and resources for the girls and their families while Hurley Elementary's student mariachi group also performed.
Other Giveback event sponsors included California Credit Union providing school backpacks; school supplies from Friends of the Heart and McDonald's restaurant off of Hacienda Boulevard in City of Industry; OMG Accessories; Tiffany's Catering; Sam's Club; The College Bridge; reusable lunch bags and school supplies by East Valley Health Center at Villacorta; GDL Balloons; Estrada Nursery; Tri-City Smiles of Hacienda Heights; Hot 92.3 FM and doughnuts by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in City of Industry.
Villacorta, Hurley and Northam elementary schools are part of the Rowland Unified School District.
For more information about Aldabella Scarpa, visit www.aldabellascarpa.com.
"This project is something phenomenal," said Guadalupe Esparza, 74, in Spanish.
The father of Smith and Gonzales, born in Texas, said he remembers helping families in Mexico when he was a young boy.
"To see the satisfaction on the girls faces, it's a great (feeling) for them. That's what keeps us doing it," he said. "It's something beautiful to be able to give - a little bit at least, anything."
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