For more than 15 years, the Santa Clarita Youth Activities League has been making a difference in the lives of children and young adults in the Val Verde area of unincorporated Los Angeles County during the holiday season.
This year was no exception as Deputy Brian Rooney, who oversees the YAL program in Santa Clarita, was joined by Field Deputy Andre Hollings for Assemblyman Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita; Field Deputy Dave Perry for 5th District Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich; officials from the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation; representatives from the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation; members of the Community Benefits Funding Committee; and other community business leaders and volunteers to bring joy to local area youth and their families.
On Thursday night, December 20, 2012, more than 300 local youth, including 275 kids and more than 40 teenagers, gathered at Val Verde Park for an evening filled with the spirit of giving and the holidays. Local families and their children were met by Santa Claus and other community volunteers who distributed toys to many children, who might otherwise have very little this holiday season. Many of the gifts were only available because of generous donations made by residents from throughout the Santa Clarita Valley during the annual Sheriff’s Department holiday toy drive.
The Sheriff’s Youth Foundation (www.SheriffsYouthFoundation.org), which provides support for many youth programs throughout Los Angeles County, such as the Youth Activities League, is dedicated to providing Los Angeles County youth with safe facilities, planned programs, and the vital tools they need to thrive and succeed in life.
The Sheriff’s Youth Activity League is a program based out of Val Verde Community Park which provides leadership and mentoring for area youth. The program helps youth in the Santa Clarita Valley make life enhancing decisions free of drugs and gangs. It offers an avenue of early intervention and alternate activities to counteract negative influences.
Several youths from the community of Val Verde, Unincorporated Los Angeles County, who are enrolled in the Sheriff’s Youth Activities League, attended the event, along with other families.
The annual program provides a unique opportunity for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station to interact with our local youth in a positive way and helps strengthen the relationships between law enforcement and the community. By providing positive influences through a wide variety of unique events like this one, we create opportunities that these kids and our deputies may not normally have.
As many as 60 youths attend the Santa Clarita YAL after school on any given day, and more than 260 kids are registered for the program. Community donations and local businesses help fund trips and activities that provide structure for youth. A partnership with a local elementary school provides the assistance of professional teachers who visit the YAL several times a week to help the youths with their homework. The program also develops positive relationships between sheriff’s deputies and our youth. The center places a great deal of emphasis on education and leadership, which has helped many youths avoid trouble and excel.
In addition to this year’s event at Val Verde Park, local businesses also came together in support of our youth and families in need. Following the gift giving event at the park, YAL Deputy Brian Rooney joined business leaders and staff from AMS Fulfillment. AMS and its staff generously donated gifts to be provided to 28 adopted families who had been identified and determined to be in need this holiday season. In addition, they worked with another local business, Vallarta Supermarket, to provide hot meals for the families.
To donate to the Sheriff’s Youth Foundation and make a difference in a young person’s life, to volunteer to get involved with our programs, or to just learn more about the Youth Activities League, visit http://www.SheriffsYouthFoundation.org.