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July 15, 2010|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Everyone says the same thing: it's a win-win situation.

The La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation and LCF Merchants Connection have partnered to fulfill two different goals at once. The Merchants Connection encourages people to shop La Cañada and generate commerce for local businesses, while the foundation supports the La Cañada Unified School District.

On June 15 the two different entities that have faced financial challenges joined forces to make La Cañada a better place for them both. They started a program known as "Foundation on the 15th" or "Shop La Cañada Days," where some 35 businesses in the city donated a percentage of what they made that day to the educational foundation, which in turn goes to the local public schools.

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"This is going to happen every month," said Karen Cornell, a member of the foundation's executive committee. "So we're really hoping people remember to go out and help their schools on the 15 of every month by shopping in La Cañada. We plan on doing this forever."

In just one month, the program has grown, with several more businesses joining this month to bring the total closer to 40.

"We are doing this event along with the Foundation because people will still support the schools if they don't support the community," said Sue Stranger, owner of Adobe gift shop and organizer of the merchants association.

While the school district deals with financial uncertainty from looming cutbacks in state funding, local stores are impacted by an economy that has turned big spenders into spendthrifts — and La Cañada residents who travel outside of the city to do business.

"We're trying to build a bigger sense of community and community pride," Cornell said. "The number one value of almost everyone in La Cañada are the schools, if we can get people to support both their merchants and their schools at the same time then we have done our job."

Each business chooses how much they will give, depending on their own situation. Some give three percent, others give 20% of what they generate that day.

Cornell arranged the program for the foundation and Stranger recruited merchants to participate. The event is an expansion on an idea Charlie Kamar has practiced for the past eight years at his La Cañada Union 76 gas station on the corner of Foothill Boulevard and Alta Canyada Road. For the past eight years, Kamar has been donating 10% of what he makes one day a month to the foundation.

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