Claremont’s finest honored at the fair

A few of Claremont’s finest were recognized during the annual Claremont Day at the LA County Fair.

The event—a day of festivities at the fair centered on the City of Trees—began with a parade of Claremont’s finest school marching bands, along with Upland High School’s marching band, and a couple of floats containing city employees and honored citizens.

Jeff Stark emceed the awards ceremony. He cited a recent Sunset Magazine article extolling Claremont is the best suburban community to live in Southern California, citing its quality of life, amenities and proximity to good schools.

“But really what the article is missing is the people, and that is you,” Mr. Stark said. “You guys make Claremont a great place to live.”

The honored citizens made up a few of Claremont’s very best, from 8-year-old Maya Aguilar, who started a foundation donating socks and blankets to the homeless, to a group of Pomona College students who found that English-language learners needed translation help in the hospital.

Maya, a third grade student at Condit Elementary, started the Cozy Collection to help out the region’s homeless population during the cold winters. The moment she saw a homeless person on the street, young Maya knew she had to give back.

“I wanted to give them my recycling money,” she said.

Instead, she rallied her second grade class, placing a box in front of her classroom for anyone who wanted to donate. Maya became a marketing whiz kid, making school announcements and creating flyers to get the word out about her cause.

All told, the Cozy Collection donated 2,000 pairs of socks and blankets the first year and 3,050 last year, Maya said. She currently has a goal for 2017 of 5,000 socks and blankets.

Maya is also a social justice advocate, Mr. Stark said. Maya marched at LAX, protest sign in hand, against President Donald Trump’s immigration ban earlier this year.

When she was asked how she felt receiving the city’s prestigious award, she just had one word: “Excited.”

Sophia Jung, a senior at Claremont High School, was also honored for giving back to her community. Sophia has volunteered at her local church, served as the school’s Key Club Vice President, and has dedicated her time to working for CLASP, helping elementary school-aged kids pass their classes.

But the most interesting aspect of Sophia’s quest to give back to the community is Say Yes to the Dress—a program that collects dresses for students to wear at various CHS dances.

According to Sophia, over 200 dresses were donated to people who would otherwise not be able to have them. Mr. Stark noted Sophia’s work, “has made many people feel included, minimized shame and helped those who may have felt marginalized.”

Another honored Claremonter is Amy Fass, who has been involved in city affairs for many years and who currently serves as the executive director of local nonprofit Shoes That Fit.

Shoes That Fit, which strives to give shoes to underprivileged and needy children, has grown from a local nonprofit to a nationwide institution under Ms. Fass’ leadership, being recognized by Assemblymember Chris Holden as one of the California nonprofits of the year.

In fact, Ms. Fass was scheduled to catch a red-eye flight after the day’s festivities—she was heading to Houston to help children there.

After the awards ceremony, Ms. Fass said she was “a little embarrassed” by receiving the award, and thanked her Shoes That Fit crew for the “incredible team effort” of helping those in need.

Health Bridges and Pomona College were two groups that also received awards at the fair. Health Bridges is a nonprofit created in 2015 by three Pomona College students—Maria Arciniega, Hong Deng Gao and Briton Lee—to help bridge the gap between residents with difficulties in the English language and navigating the healthcare system.

Over the past two years, Mr. Stark said, Health Bridges has helped 50 patients and volunteered around 500 hours at Pomona Valley Medical Center.

Ms. Arciniega was present to accept the city’s award.

Pomona College was also honored as a result of donating 463 acres of land in Evey Canyon and Padua Hills to the city of Claremont. The land, which was donated  has since been incorporated into the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park.

Candie Putnam and Frank Bedoya of Pomona College were on hand to accept the award.

Matthew Bramlett

[Corrections: The article was updated to elaborate that Sophia Jung helped elementary school students with their homework, as well as the Say Yes to the Dress program, which helps all students, not just special needs. Additionally, a quote from Sophia was removed at her request.]


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