Coast Hills

CoastHills 'Top 40 Under 40' honoree pledges support to Boys and Girls Club of South SLO County

by Joshua D. Scroggin
August 30, 2017

It isn’t always the biggest gestures that make the most impact.

Rebecca Britton remembers a time she gave an ice cream sandwich to each of the kids under her care at the Oceano Elementary site of the Boys and Girls Club of South SLO County.

To one little girl, a native Spanish speaker who just arrived at the school, it meant the world.

“I heard about that ice cream sandwich for years,” said Rebecca, the club’s Director of Operations. “She said it was her first ice cream sandwich; she never got desserts. Years later, she said she was so grateful for that ice cream sandwich.”

In Oceano, 82 percent of the children qualify for the free or reduced school meal program, but, Rebecca said, studies show one in five children in the Lucia Mar School District go completely hungry after lunch.

The Boys and Girls Club tries to combat that issue by providing a supper for the children in the on-campus after-school program. But that’s only one of many battles the club is fighting to help support its vulnerable children.

Whether it’s replacing thoroughly worn out pairs of shoes, outfitting kids who can’t afford glasses with necessary eyewear, or something as simple as providing a writing utensil, the Boys and Girls Club just tries to find a way.

The local Rotary and Kiwanis clubs teamed up for a recent backpack drive for Grover Heights Elementary, and CoastHills Five Cities branch manager Alonso Figueroa, a Boys and Girls Club board member, felt humbled by the sincere appreciation for such modest gift items. 

“The kids would form a line by grade level,” Alonso said, “and seeing their faces — it was just crayons and a backpack — but man, were they appreciative. They were happy and jumping up and down. They were so stoked that they got to choose a backpack color. It was like they had never done that before.”

In addition to being named one of the Pacific Coast Business Times’s Top 40 Under 40, Alonso also participates in CoastHills’s employee giving program “I’m All In.” Credit Union staff contribute donations directly from their paychecks, and every quarter, names are drawn to determine how the money is spent.

Currently, I’m All In funds five $1,000 donations every quarter and is on pace to award $20,000 of community support in 2017. Alonso was selected in the most recent round of drawings and easily decided to send his sponsorship to the Boys and Girls Club.

“I didn’t have to think about it,” Alonso said. “I was fortunate enough to have people around me that helped me a lot. It was tough growing up, and having people there to assist me — who might have been strangers to me — I will never forget that for the rest of my life. To be able to give a little something to an organization like the Boys and Girls Club feels like paying it forward.”

Alonso’s donation will likely head to the club’s general fund, where it can be applied to the greatest immediate need. At this point, the most pressing large-scale need is space.

The South SLO County summer program was at capacity for the first time this past summer. After initially serving just 30 kids when it first started, the program topped 100 kids in 2016 and swelled to the maximum of 150 this year.

With demand continuing to increase, the club will have to find a solution to space restrictions as soon as Thanksgiving, when the next school break program will take place.

If you are interested in contributing, the club accepts donations of funds, goods, services and time. Whether it be volunteering or just speaking to the children about their careers and the importance of education, Rebecca said whatever a person is able to give, she will accept. Simply call (805) 481-7339 or visit to get in touch.

“We’re pretty open,” she said. “If you have a gardening service, we have a garden that needs to be tended to. We’re always trying to educate the kids. We’re trying to encourage them to go to college or a career. Kindergarteners they need to know college is important.”

Your contribution could be someone’s first ice cream sandwich. 

Similar topics: We Make A Difference, I'm All In

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