It has been a charitable weekend for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which included Clayton and Ellen Kershaw hosting the seventh annual Kershaw’s Challenge Back to School Bash. They again were joined by the L.A. Dodgers Foundation (LADF) and The Dream Center as signature partners for the yearly event.
The Back to School Bash traditionally is held on The Dream Center campus, where local families and children are provided with a backpack full of school supplies, medical screening and able to enjoy a wide array of activities.
Justin and Kourtney Turner regularly attend, and last year Chris Taylor also was on hand to pass out backpacks and pose for pictures.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic required change, so the event was moved to Dodger Stadium and held as a drive-thru at the Top of the Park. Backpacks, food boxes made possible by Melissa’s Produce, face masks, sunscreen, hygiene supplies from UCLA Health, Sound Body Sound Mind home physical education kits, school supplies and other materials were distributed.
Additional deliveries were also made to families in need in surrounding communities including Echo Park, Vernon, Watts, Lynwood, Chinatown, San Gabriel Valley, Huntington Park, Pacoima, South Gate, Compton, Inglewood, East L.A. and Skid Row.
“These kids have had so much cancelled in the last six months,” Ellen said. “I think it’s really special for us to be able to say this is happening. This is something they really look forward to. As a kid, going to get new school supplies is such a fun thing to do. It’s kind of a fresh start to a new year, so that’s what we’re hoping to provide for these kids.
“Not only a sense of normalcy but just something exciting that hasn’t been cancelled. I’m hoping that they’re really blessed by this.”
Clayton added: “Like Ellen said, getting school supplies is fun. I remember being able to do that as a kid, and it’s a special thing. It hopefully gets them excited for the online learning they’re going to do at least for the first semester.
“Regardless if you’re in school or not, some type of education needs to continue to happen. Maybe these backpacks are a little bit of excitement to get people rolling with that. As far as all the other things involved with COVID like hand sanitizers and different things like that, we’re going to be able to provide through these backpacks. Really cool thing for Skechers, the Dodgers Foundation, the Dodgers, everybody involved. It’s pretty special.”
Because of the circumstances, the Kershaw family couldn’t attend or be as involved the day of their Back to School Bash. However, it was important to Clayton and Ellen that they still were present in some regard, along with their children.
“This is always such a fun event for us because we take our kids to it. They were on the front lines with us for four years straight of passing out backpacks to kids that are eye to eye with them,” Ellen said. “I think that’s a really special thing for Clayton and I as parents.
“Really being able to raise people that have giving hearts and understand the impact of getting to hand out backpacks. For sure when we get on the Zoom call, we’re going to have our kids with us. We want them to see that and be exposed to it. That’s just going to be the culture of our family.
“We want our kids to grow up knowing that everything we’ve been given is not ours to keep. It is our responsibility to give right back.”
Kershaw’s Challenge adapting
With normalcy changed in just about every sector this year amid the ongoing pandemic, Kershaw’s Challenge has needed to change their approach in order to provide for their beneficiaries.
“Fundraising during a pandemic is not easy. Our team at K.C. has been unbelievable in trying to raise money without our big events and different things,” Clayton said. “It’s always a challenge for a nonprofit. Our donors have been amazing, our beneficiaries are still going to be supported, and this is the first step.
“Our beneficiaries are pretty set in stone at the beginning of every year, so there’s projects we have committed to completing, money committed to being raised. We’re going to do it. We’re figuring out different ways.”
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