The beginning of the school year can be rough for anyone. For hundreds of students in the Gilroy Unified School District, the new school opens on an especially tragic note, a little over two weeks after the Garlic Festival shooting.
Lady Gaga on Friday, Aug.9 announced plans to make the opening day a little easier for classrooms in Gilroy, and in El Paso, Tex., and Dayton, Ohio, cities hit this month with deadly mass shootings.
The ‘Star is Born’ singer, whose real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, announced the donations in a Facebook post that her foundation, Born This Way Foundation, has partnered with the charity DonorsChoose.org to fund classroom projects in the three cities.
In Gilroy, the 23 projects—for which funds were requested by teachers and staff before the festival tragedy—are at El Roble, Antonio del Buono and Las Animas elementary schools and Gilroy and Christopher high schools.
“We continue to be amazed at the outpouring of support for our staff and students in the wake of the tragedies that occurred at the Gilroy Garlic Festival and we are so grateful to Lady Gaga and her organization, which supports mental health resources for people, for the generous gifts to our students, schools and community,” said Melanie Corona, spokesperson for the Gilroy Unified School District.
Corona said the total funding for the Gilroy projects was approximately $11,717, and that Gilroy’s projects were “fully funded” Aug. 9. Funding gifts include classroom books, alternative seating options for students, art supplies, games, IT support for College Signing Day, culinary arts supplies, and a new rug and bookshelf.
Approximately 18,000 students in all three cities will benefit from Gaga’s goodwill. Funds donated to these classroom projects provided supplies like iPads, books and engineering kits. No dollar amounts were specified in the announcement.
The cornerstone of Gaga’s foundation is supporting youth with “evidence-backed programs, focusing on improving their mental health.
In her post, Gaga said: “If you see a loved one struggling, please be brave and reach out, remind them it’s ok to not be ok, and listen to them. We cannot turn away from ourselves. We cannot turn away from our loved ones. We need each other. Don’t turn away.”
Here is her complete Aug. 9 Facebook post:
“A note to Dayton, El Paso, and Gilroy:
My heart goes out to those who were taken from us too soon and to their families, loved ones, and communities who are left to grieve. Everyone has the right to laws that make them feel safe in their communities. In this moment, I want to channel my confusion, frustration, and fury into hope. Hope that we are there for each other and for ourselves.
“Today, I find hope in the work of DonorsChoose.org and I’m proud to partner with them and with Born This Way Foundation to fully fund the classroom project needs in Dayton, OH, El Paso, TX, and Gilroy, CA. 14 classrooms in Dayton, 125 classrooms in El Paso, and 23 classrooms in Gilroy will now have access to the support they need to inspire their students to work together and bring their dreams to life. https://www.donorschoose.org/bekind21
“Surviving and recovering from these tragedies also means prioritizing your mental health and checking in on your loved ones. If you’re struggling, please be brave and tell a trusted someone. Don’t be scared to ask for help, I beg you. If you see a loved one struggling, please be brave and reach out, remind them it’s ok to not be ok, and listen to them. We cannot turn away from ourselves. We cannot turn away from our loved ones. We need each other. Don’t turn away.
In loving memory of the victims of the tragic shootings in Dayton, OH, El Paso, TX, and Gilroy, CA.”