Three cheers for Cheers for Children


In 2019 at Buena High School’s cafeteria, a soccer team gathered to pack boxes. (Left to right) Matt Almaraz, Bryce, Nathan, and Jenner Photo by: VUSD staff

Brody Daw

The importance of Cheers for Children continuing to persist through COVID-19


Christmas can be a time for joy and cheer, but for some families, it is a time of stress. For families struggling to make ends meet, Christmas dinner can depend on the generosity of their community and charities such as, “Cheers for Children.” Cheers for Children provides food and services for underprivileged households in our Ventura Unified School District. COVID-19 has negatively impacted people, businesses and lives, but the annual Cheers for Children thrived. 500 boxes were filled with food, which was 150 more than previous years and approximately $25,000 was collected with Ventura High, Buena High and Cabrillo Middle School being the top donors. Ventura Unified efforts shone through the darkness of COVID-19, and refusing to let this tradition die was an example of the community’s persistence and dedication.

Amy Dahm, an overseer for Cheers for Children said, “The Ventura Cheers for Children Committee consists of Dr. Roger Rice, Mrs. Marieanne Quiroz, Ms. Rose Ramirez and myself, Ms. Amy Dahm. However, during a typical non-COVID year, the committee relies on the help of countless VUSD staff, parents and student volunteers to make our charity a success!” This year marks the 69 years ofCheers for Children. 

The program started when teachers recognized their students were in need of some help around the holidays; the idea gained popularity eventually leading up to about a hundred people coming to help out each year. “It felt good to help out my community, Cheers for Children is a great program,” said Alisha Ali, a freshman at Ventura High. 

Scan to donate to Cheers for Children. On average Cheers for Children brings in about 25,000 dollars a year, lets help them reach their goal this year! Photo by: Brody Daw

With employment being at an all-time low, 60 percent of American teens lived in a household experiencing a loss of income, making Cheers for Children more important than ever. Lower-income families were less likely to acquire jobs than those who were wealthier, leaving them at a disadvantage. During the 2018-19 school year more than 6,000 students in Ventura County experienced homelessness, a number that has only risen since COVID-19 hit. Homeless and lower-income students face an unbelievable amount of academic stress, “Anything Cheers for Children can do to take off any of that stress at home is a good thing,” said Dahm.

The application process involves staff reaching out to all students and school counselors, teachers or other office staff submitting referrals on behalf of Ventura Unified families. This holiday season, Cheers for Children will be virtual and they are requesting gift cards. The link will be embedded in this article if you wish to donate through Venmo helping families in need. 

Families who were grateful that through COVID-19 Cheers for Children was able to continue, reached out to the district, “We received messages of thanks for continuing to provide a modified event in the face of COVID-19, as many of our families were struggling to purchase essential items. The gift cards we provided made a positive impact on them,” Dahn said. The outreach to take care of those who may be struggling during these holiday times, in Dahm’s words, “provides an excellent opportunity to give back to our community.”