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Community News: Central

DOWNTOWN : Day Camp Program Strapped for Funds

July 17, 1994|TOMMY LI

Soon after Jahaziel Diaz of 9th Street School finished crafting his Styrofoam World Cup trophy, the 10-year-old started sweeping the unused scraps and papers from his desk into a box--not a trash can.

"There's 10 classes and they need materials," said the boy, who earlier had brushed some heart- and star-shaped pieces of paper into the cardboard container. "We leave what we didn't use for the other classes."

Though such a drill has become a norm at most financially strapped Los Angeles Unified School District campuses, it is the first time that Para Los Ninos' Summer Day Camp program has experienced a shortage in funds and supplies, officials said.

The local day-care group, which offers children's services to 9th Street School, is trying to raise $30,000 for its 10-week day camp at the campus.

Para Los Ninos officials said the unexpected need for money arose after they learned from district officials in April that the year-round 9th Street School will go back to a traditional September-to-June schedule this fall.

Because school would not be in session during the summer, Para Los Ninos officials said they were forced to scramble and put together a program for 300 children, most from homeless or latch-key families.

"These children really need to have a place to spend their summer because if they don't have a summer camp to go to, they will be left alone--left unsupervised in a very bad part of Los Angeles," said Shannon Coleman, who is coordinating Para Los Ninos' fund-raising drive.

The drive itself has been further complicated because Coleman no longer has access to a list of previous summer camp donors.

That list was among the items stolen during a burglary last year at the day-care group's 6th Street office, said Jorge Armendariz, Para Los Ninos associate director.

Instead, "we're going to foundations and corporations," Armendariz said. "We're writing proposals, trying to see who wants to fund the program."

So far, Para Los Ninos has raised $35,000 for a $65,000 bare-bones program, which started July 5 and ends Sept. 2, he said. Most of the funds were donated from charitable foundations and through a letter-writing campaign.

But without the remaining $30,000, the program will only have enough to cover salaries for the 26 staff workers and a limited amount of arts and reading supplies. Already, day camp officials have had to reduce classroom field trips from four times a month in past summers when year-round school was not in session to once a month because of the high cost of bus rental.

Materials and supplies, such as books, scissors and glue, have to be shared among students.

"We don't have record players for them to hear a song," said Eva Contreras, program coordinator. "Especially art supplies, we don't have enough for all the children to participate in one activity."

Donors for the fund-raising drive can contact Para Los Ninos at (213) 623-8446.

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