LOS BANOS – PG&E representatives made a surprise donation over the weekend that will help put shoes on the feet of hundreds of foster children in Merced County.
At a fundraiser at the Los Banos Community Center on Saturday (Oct. 12), a $5,000 donation was presented to a stunned Brynn Wolcott, founder and president of Happy Feet Foundation, a nonprofit that purchases shoes for children in need.
The money was awarded during a fundraiser for Court Appointed Special Advocates of Merced County, an organization that assists abused and neglected children as they go through the court system. Wolcott was just lauded as one of CASA’s volunteers when she was asked to remain on stage as the other volunteers were excused.
“You always wonder — you know when you see people on television getting surprised with those big checks — how you would act. Well, I was a deer in the headlights,” said Wolcott.
As Wolcott stood on stage, PG&E’s Richard Dye, a senior government relations representative based in Merced, came up and presented her an oversized check. PG&E’s Anna Brooks, the Central Valley government relations manager based in Fresno, also spoke about the donation to Happy Feet.
“I was overwhelmed and just so thankful for all the children that will benefit from this money. Every child deserves to feel good about themselves,” said Wolcott.
Wolcott said she expects to purchase 333 pair of shoes with funding from PG&E through a discounted rate at Payless ShoeSource.
The utility’s donation is five times larger than the largest donation ever given to Happy Feet. “I love PG&E… I’m just so grateful to them,” said Wolcott.
The Atwater-based nonprofit operates on an extremely lean budget with only Wolcott and a community-based board of directors overseeing administration. With the exception of paying an accountant, Happy Feet’s funding goes directly to shoes and this is one of the reasons PG&E wanted to help, said Dye.
“This money will allow the opportunity to provide shoes for children throughout Merced County,” said Dye.
And the money is much-needed said Wolcott, who pointed out that 39 percent of the county’s children live in poverty and that most receive free- or reduced-priced lunch at school.
“I’m so grateful that PG&E has confidence in and is supporting a small, grassroots nonprofit,” said Wolcott. “It’s extremely hard to find funding when you are starting out because you don’t have much of a track record and for PG&E to step up and give us this huge boost is just inspiring.”
Email Currents at Currents@pge.com.