Morongo Grants Holiday Wishes for 3,500 Inland Children

Tribe gives $100,000 for annual Christmas Cheer All Year shopping spree in Ontario to benefit hundreds of disadvantaged children from across the Inland Empire and beyond.

Ontario, Calif. (Dec. 18, 2017) – Excitement filled the crisp morning air Monday as 3,500 low-income children from across Southern California – including 600 from the San Gorgonio Pass – eagerly hunted for their favorite holiday toys at the annual Christmas Cheer All Year Shopping Spree, sponsored by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

Laughter echoed across the aisles of the Toys R Us in Ontario, CA as happy children darted among the shelves, searching for everything from Star Wars toys to Marvel superhero action figures, Barbie dolls, Lego sets, soccer balls and other games and toys.

“In this season of sharing, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians is excited to be partnering once again with Christmas Cheer All Year to bring holiday joy to thousands of children in need,” Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin said.  “This will be the only present that some of these children receive this holiday, and it’s wonderful to see all the smiles as they shop for the toy they've been dreaming of.”

For the eighth year in a row, Morongo served as title sponsor for the annual shopping spree by donating $100,000 to the nonprofit Christmas Cheer All Year organization. Children from across the Inland Empire, including 600 youth from Banning, Beaumont and Cabazon, were selected by local charities and nonprofit groups to take part in the event.

Nathaniel Lopez and his brother, Eric, both of Cabazon, picked out Lego Ninjago sets during the shopping spree. “It was a lot of fun,” Nathaniel said as he inspected the box. “This set has 341 pieces! That’s the biggest one I have!”  

Their mother, Elena Orozco, thanked Morongo and Christmas Cheer All Year for putting on an event to benefit so many children and families.

“I’m a single mother of two and this helps a lot,” Orozco said. “I tell them (her sons) they are very lucky because some kids don’t get to shop for Christmas gifts.”

Bertha Munoz of Banning, who is raising her two grandchildren, agreed. “Morongo really puts the spirit of Christmas in the kids, and it’s just a blessing to everyone who participates,” Munoz said. 

Since 2010, Morongo has donated $750,000 to the annual shopping sprees organized by Rick Lozano, founder of Christmas Cheer All Year and a longtime Fox 11 News journalist. To date, the program has benefitted more than 20,000 children.

“Year after year, Morongo’s generosity helps make a huge difference in the lives of children and families in need, and that’s especially true during the holidays when the tribe helps bring joy to the most vulnerable in our communities,” Lozano said.  

As in past years, hundreds of children in protective care with the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) took part in the shopping spree program. Without Morongo’s help, these children would have gone without a present, county officials said.

Dozens of the children who took part in the shopping spree were selected by the James A. Venable Community Center in Cabazon.

“Every year, our children are always very excited about the annual shopping spree, which is such a wonderful blessing for so many families who are struggling,” said Deana Mann, manager of the Venable Center. “Many of the children we serve will enjoy a very happy holiday, thanks to Morongo and Christmas Cheer All Year and their work in supporting the community.”

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has a long tradition of giving. The tribe contributes more than $1 million annually to support communities and nonprofits across the Inland Empire and Southern California.

Photo Captions

CCAY Photo 1:  Morongo Tribal Council Member Damon Sandoval (left) and children from Banning, Beaumont and Cabazon present a $100,000 sponsorship check to Christmas Cheer All Year organizers at Monday’s shopping spree for 3,500 children at Toys R Us in Ontario, CA.  

CCAY Photo 3:  Six-year-old Logan Ziemer of Beaumont, CA takes part in Monday’s annual Christmas Cheer All Year Shopping Spree, sponsored by  the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

CCAY Photo 4:  Staycee Leimas (front) Miranda Garcia (left) and Kayla Delgado (right) of Banning, CA are all smiles at Monday’s annual Christmas Cheer All Year Shopping Spree, sponsored by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.