Since 1992, the fountain in front of JC Penney in the Westfield Town Center Valencia has been a place where people congregate to rest, relax and toss in the occasional coin and make a wish.
However, as part of the mall’s ongoing $20 million renovation project, slated to wrap up by the holidays, the fountain is scheduled to be demolished. And now, before it goes, Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield officials are hoping the fountain can help a few more wishes come true for local schools.
The fountain’s final day is scheduled for Sunday, May 12, and all money collected from the fountain until then will be donated to the WiSH Education Foundation, which supports the William S. Hart Union High School District.
Members of the Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield staff were joined by City Councilman Cameron Smyth on Monday to kick off the fundraising project with a ceremonial tossing of coins into the fountain.
“We thought there couldn’t be a better way to say goodbye to the fountain than to invite the community to come out, make one last wish and to raise money to the Hart District (WiSH) Foundation,” said Smyth. “We’re kind of a competitive family, so when we were throwing in the coins, we tried to make it into the actual spout.”
Corrine Barchanowicz, senior general manager for Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield, said the idea for the fundraiser came to staff when they were preparing for the fountain’s demolition, noting they’d collected about $3,000 from the fountain in the past year.
“With our partnership with the WiSH Foundation, we thought it natural to partner with them to make this donation and for the community to make one last wish,” Barchanowicz said. “I feel like my wishes are coming true with the renovations we’re making to the mall at the moment to bring a more modern experience to our customers, and I feel fortunate to work with our community partners and to give back to the community.”
Smyth said that, while the donation would not be huge since people would mainly be tossing in their spare change, he felt that the community would rally to the initiative, particularly since it’s tied to education.
“I have no doubt that we’ll see more money raised than we would normally see raised in four to six months because the community always wants to come together,” he said. “It’s for the schools, and that’s all you need to say for the community to rally together.”
Part of the WiSH Foundation’s goals include purchasing $50,000 worth of books for the school district libraries, concussion equipment for student athletes and guitars for the Sierra Vista Junior High School music program; creating a new biomedical pathway for Hart High School students; and publishing a poetry collection for the Bowman High School Literary Festival.