In a year marked by pandemic, disaster and economic hardship, the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Helena and Calistoga continues to find new ways to serve local families.

The organization recently teamed up with the nonprofit My New Red Shoes (MNRS), which donated $15,000 to be distributed among three local families who lost their homes in the Glass Fire.

In addition to the $15,000, MNRS provided personal care items acquired through a partnership with the Orlando Magic’s Aaron Gordon, Dove Men+Care and the National Basketball Players Association.

The collaboration began after news about the Boys & Girls Club delivering thousands of meals to fire evacuees caught the attention of Joanne Gouaux, a former St. Helenan and board chair of MNRS, which is based in Redwood City but serves the greater Bay Area.

Trent Yaconelli, the club’s executive director, explained to Gouaux how some Glass Fire victims were farmworkers or domestic workers who have children but weren’t eligible for disaster relief funds.

Gouaux put Yaconelli in touch with Minh Ngo, executive director of MNRS, which ultimately donated $15,000 out of a new grant program. “We wanted to play a role in supporting our neighbors and the children who are most in need,” Ngo said.

“Through their incredible support, families, single moms and migrant workers who lost what little they owned were given financial support to get them back on their feet again,” Yaconelli said. “This would not have been possible without MNRS and their dedication to helping those on the fringes. With their support there are families who now have clothing, shelter and vehicles to start a new life. MNRS is a shining example of what can happen when good people give their hearts and energy to those in need.”

Yaconelli lost his own home in the Tubbs Fire of 2017, so he understands how much fire victims need cash — not just gift cards — for miscellaneous expenses.

“You don’t know what you’re going to need,” he said. “When you get a gift certificate or a gift card, it limits what you can get.”

Yaconelli and Ngo are already talking about teaming up in the future to provide clothing, shoes and various household goods for needy families.

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