Saugus High School Freshman, Regina Lee, saw local businesses struggling during the shutdown in Santa Clarita caused by COVID-19, and knew she could lend a hand by collecting funds.
After Santa Clarita schools sent students home in mid-March, Lee saw businesses all over the nation suffering as everyone was instructed to stay at home. She also noticed that essential services like food pantries were experiencing increased demand. After seeing these trends, Lee was inspired to start “Smile, SCV!”, a fund that aims at helping local businesses stay afloat in such an uncertain time.
Lee said, “I noticed that Santa Clarita was being affected on a smaller scale, and I just wanted to be able to help these people.” She continued, “At first, I was thinking of a food drive, but with social distancing requirements that would be hard, so I decided a monetary donation would be easier and more efficient.”
Upon thinking of the challenges she would face by helping her community on her own, Lee reached out to local organizations that already help people in Santa Clarita. Lee remembered the Santa Clarita Coalition because of its organization of Saugus Strong donations after the Saugus High School shooting in November of 2019.
Santa Clarita Coalition member, Jeri Seratti-Goldman, connected Lee with Matthew Nelson from the Santa Clarita Valley Boys and Girls Club, and Bradly Grose from the Santa Clarita Grocery.
When asked why she paired with the two organizations, Lee said, “I chose those two organizations because not only are they really active, but they tackle different aspects of helping people every day. SCV Grocery helps people with food and the Boys and Girls Club takes care of kids mentally and physically, which is especially important now that they are locked up in their houses.”
She also discussed that local organizations like Santa Clarita Grocery and the Boys and Girls Club have been helping local residents long before the COVID-19 shutdown. Lee plans to make sure they will keep helping people long into the future.
“What I really enjoyed about this process was getting to meet all these different people and knowing that they support the people of this community,” said Lee. “When I first thought of (Smile, SCV!), it was more of a fantasy. Then I met Mrs. Goldman and she was so helpful and supportive, and now I’m realizing this fantasy can turn into reality.”
Lee says she would love to see Santa Clarita residents donate to Smile, SCV! And would like to see us support one another as if we were extended family.
“I just want to see the people I see at the market, the library, or at school to smile again. Even though we’re going through a really hard time.”