Committed to the communities it serves, KOHL'S Department Stores donated $67,987 to support the KOLH'S Water Safety Program at Children’s Hospital Central California – about $20,000 more than the popular retailer contributed to the program last year.
“This gift lets the community know that KOHL'S isn’t just here strictly to make money, we’re here to be involved in the community,” said John Wallace, Store Manager of KOHL'S on Shaw Avenue in Fresno. “We are very happy to be affiliated with Children’s Hospital.”
The gift was made during the ABCs of Water Safety event at Swim America in Clovis on Sept. 1. Wallace presented an oversized check to Elena Romero, Director, Principal Gifts, Children’s Foundation.
The KOHL'S Water Safety Program – a partnership between Children’s and KOHL'S – is a multifaceted community outreach program designed to provide awareness and education to children and families, students and the general public on water safety and drowning prevention.
KOHL'S has supported the Hospital’s water safety program for two consecutive years and has been a community partner since 2005. KOHL'S commitment to Children’s Hospital is made possible through Kohl’s Cares for Kids, in which profits from the sale of special plush toys and books in local KOHL'S department stores go to Children’s. Over the past five years, KOHL'S has donated more than $270,000 to the Hospital. Last year, they contributed $48,439 to the water safety program.
“This renewed gift from KOHL'S will help the Hospital advocate and communicate to the public about injury prevention specifically tied to water safety,” said Romero. “Through these efforts we’re helping kids stay safe around water.”
Geared toward parents with young children, the ABCs of Water Safety event highlighted the importance of being safe around bodies of water, including pools, lakes, canals and more. During the event, Children’s Water Watchers Coordinator Mary Jo Quintero taught parents: the importance of adult supervision while children are in the water; the need for barriers around pools, such as self-locking gates; the benefits of swimming, CPR and first aid lessons, and the difference between life jackets and other flotation devices, such as swim aids and water toys.
“Adult supervision is the most important barrier to keep your child safe around water,” said Quintero. “But other things can help as well, and life jackets are a good example. You want to make sure it’s a U.S. Coast Guard approved jacket, and an appropriate weight and style for the child.”
Quintero illustrated how to ensure a child’s life jacket fits properly on 3-year-old Chloe Stuckey, who is taking swimming lessons at Swim America and learned about water safety at the event. As a gift for volunteering, the youngster got to keep the life jacket. The presentation also included a water rescue demonstration. Following the presentation, KOHL'S employees passed out KOHL'S Water Safety kits, filled with stickers and information for children and parents in attendance.
“As a parent, I think that any skill a child can acquire that builds self-confidence and promotes safety is a benefit,” said Chloe’s mother, Shelley Stuckey, of Fresno. “It’s important for every child to learn how to swim in the Valley, especially with the heat and so many pools readily available to kids.”
There have been 47 water-related injuries involving children in the Central Valley since January. According to the National “Safe Kids” Campaign, drowning is the number one cause of unintentional injury and death in California for children under age 5. More California children within this age bracket will die from water-related injuries than from motor vehicle accidents.
Each year KOHL'S program provides drowning prevention education to hundreds of Central California students and parents, and travels from the North Valley to as far south as Bakersfield.
“I know from personal experience and people that I work with, how big a part Children’s Hospital plays in our lives,” said Wallace. “I couldn’t think of a better organization to be involved with.”