The annual Teddy Bear Tea fundraiser started out with a small need.
Founder and current president Gayle Pacheco was walking through the local Vons with her husband, former Assemblyman Bob Pacheco, when they saw a teacher buying supplies for a class.
The couple spotted the teacher at another store later doing the same and, again, taking on the cost of the school supplies.
"They had cut the budgets for school supplies," Gayle Pacheco said.
At that time, the Walnut Valley Educational Foundation — a non-profit organization that raises funds to support the school district — was focused on funding programs in the fine arts.
But budget cuts were hitting everyday classroom needs, and the foundation decided to expand its reach.
After 15 years, the annual event is helping again , providing 44 grants of up to $300 each for individual classes in the district.
"The mini-grants help to fund expenses teachers would otherwise need to fork out of their own pockets," Pacheco said.
The mini-grants awarded this year helped to fund equipment, classroom materials, and special projects at schools throughout the district. In total, $12,000 was awarded and School Board President Cindy Ruiz said around $15,000 is usually brought in by the event, which featured personal and corporate donations for a silent and live auction as well as a raffle of various decorated teddy bears.
"We have many small donors here today and that means a lot," Pacheco said, "it's a real team effort."
Donors ranged from Majestic Realty Vice President John Semcken to community organizations, district schools, and personal donations.
Teddy Bear Tea Committee Member Clark Rucker is a perfect example of the range of donors to Saturday's event. The senior manager at Boeing was a business sponsor of the event but also gave a personal contribution, adding a painting by his father Charles Rucker to the silent auction table.
Rucker said that painting was the true passion of his father, who was a police officer and composite artist by day, and the painting was just one of many his father completed in his lifetime.
And the painting was just one in an array of items for auction at Saturday's event at Royal Vista Golf Course, which hosted a nearly full house, around 50 teddy bears for auction, and music from Walnut High School musicians.
"We're close to a sellout crowd," Pacheco said. "We're very pleased with the turnout."
The full list of mini-grants awarded through proceeds from this year's event are listed below.School/ProgramTeacherProject Child Care Carol Burnett "Let the Music Play" Chaparral Middle School Jennifer Alcazar One to One Laptop Chaparral Middle School Enoch Choi One to One Laptop Chaparral Middle School Anna Landi One to One Laptop Chaparral Middle School Denise Loera One to One Laptop Chaparral Middle School Robert Patterson One to One Laptop Chaparral Middle School Jennifer Barrera "Skills for Life" Chaparral Middle School Katie Shervick "I X L" C.J. Morris Elementary Linda Kim One to One Technology Tools C.J. Morris Elementary Carol Martindale Project GLAD (Guided Lanugage Acquisition Design) C.J. Morris Elementary Rochelle Mortinsen Video Modeling C.J. Morris Elementary Cindy Riggio Project GLAD (Guided Lanugage Acquisition Design) Diamond Bar High School Library Pamela Sue Hunter "Ebooks for Non-native Speakers" Evergreen Elementary Elizabeth Chang "Technology & Music" Evergreen Elementary Shelby Mallet-Coomber "Map It Out" Evergreen Elementary Erika McQuilliams "Building a Non-fiction Library" Evergreen Elementary Sandy Moritz "Math Manipulatives" Evergreen Elementary Lynne Stark "An Interactive Classroom" Evergreen Elementary Mona Warren "Documenting Student Performance in Kindergarten" Maple Hill Elementary Karen Imperial "Individual Dry Erase Boards" Maple Hill Elementary Eunice Lee "Individual Dry Erase Boards" Maple Hill Elementary Jennifer Fetchik "Kindergarten Versa Tiles" Quail Summit Elementary Kathy McLean "Read It, Write It, Love It" Quail Summit Elementary Nancy Moore "Scholastic Magazine - Time for Kids" Quail Summit Elementary Mary Renner "Vital Vivid Vocabulary" South Pointe Middle School Crystal Dira "Science Olympiad" South Pointe Middle School Deborah Legarra "Medieval Times Language Arts Unit" Suzanne Middle School Alice Chen "21st Century Learning" Suzanne Middle School Amy Erickson "Quiz Systems" Suzanne Middle School Ragen Goetz "Smart Classrooms for Special Education" Suzanne Middle School Simone Sevilla "Smart Classrooms for Special Education" Suzanne Middle School Alice Torres "Smart Classrooms for Special Education" Suzanne Middle School Dana Veit "Smart Classrooms for Special Education" Suzanne Middle School Linda Woods "Smart Classrooms for Special Education" TOTS PreSchool Lynda Watts PreSchool Prancers TOTS PreSchool Ronyse Wynne PreSchool Prancers Walnut Elementary Jill Igarashi Fun & Fitness Walnut Elementary Jennifer Yi "Equipment to Enhance Students' Academics" Walnut Elementary Kristin Jervis "Equipment to Enhance the Use of our Smartboards" Walnut Elementary Shirley Moss "Visual Media for Language Arts, Math, Science and Social Skills" Walnut Elementary Library Debbie Palmer "Accelerated Reader Books for Lower Grade and Struggling Students" Walnut High School Lily Jacquot "Let's Talk" Walnut High School Cheryl Miller "Access to Literature"