About Us

All children are special. However, Variety – the Children’s Charity’s purpose is to serve children who are less fortunate – children who live and grow up with a serious illness, disability or disadvantage. These are extra special children who require a special kind of help.


Under its core programs Variety – the Children’s Charity of the Desert delivers on its promise to provide a future without limits for every local child, regardless of their background or ability, and to be the most trusted and effective children’s charity in the Coachella Valley.


Variety’s Care Program delivers critical life-saving medical equipment and services, healthcare and well-being to individual children and children’s health organizations.


Variety’s Freedom Program delivers vital life-changing equipment and services for mobility, independence and social inclusion to individual children and children’s organizations.


Variety’s Future Program delivers crucial life-enriching communication equipment and services, education and self-esteem to individual children and children’s organizations.

Unlike most charitable organizations that focus on a single area problem or issue, Variety focuses on multiple unmet needs of children who are sick, disadvantaged or live with disabilities and other special needs in the Coachella Valley.

Our aim is to maximize the real, long-term positive social impact for all children. Variety welcomes the support of any person who shares our ideals and objectives – the profound and long-term life changing benefits your donation and support delivers to a child cannot be overstated.

Although Variety’s work is serious, we never forget the importance of having fun. Bringing smiles to the faces of children is a positive and fun experience for Variety volunteers, sponsors and supporters.


Variety - the Children’s Charity of the Desert, is dedicated to promoting and protecting the health and well-being of children who are underprivileged and/or have special needs in the Coachella Valley.

Through hard work, thoughtful stewardship, and single-minded focus on the needs of the young, Variety strives to make a lasting difference in the lives of children, their families, our community, and the world… one need at a time.


Variety has its roots in the entertainment industry, but its heart is the community. People from all walks of life can contribute and experience the joy of helping a child, confident that their generosity has real impact and results in markedly improving a child’s future and making the world a better place.

Initially founded in 1927 by a group of 11 theatre owners and showmen in Pittsburgh, USA, as a social club, the so-named Variety Club evolved into a charity during 1928.

Playing cards backstage after a matinee performance at the Sheridan Square Theatre, the group heard whimpering from the auditorium. When they investigated, they discovered a one-month-old baby girl to whom her mother had pinned a desperate note:

Please take care of my baby. Her name is Catherine. I can no longer take care of her. I have eight others. My husband is out of work. She was born on Thanksgiving Day. I have always heard of the goodness of show business people and pray to God that you will look after her. Signed,
 A heartbroken mother

When all efforts by the police and local newspapers failed to locate the parents, the club members decided that they would act as 11 “Godfathers” and underwrite Catherine’s support and education.

The little girl, who became the inspiration for our international children’s charity, was named Catherine Variety Sheridan, her middle name for the club and last name for the theatre she was found in. Proud that a distraught mother had entrusted her precious child to them, the club members set out to raise money and obtain goods needed for Catherine’s care. The resulting publicity put Catherine’s story and Variety on the front pages of newspapers across the United States. Inspired by Catherine’s story, many other people wanted to get involved and the members were soon inundated with help, far too much for one child, and thus other disadvantaged and orphaned children became beneficiaries of Catherine’s “adoption” by the Variety Club members.

From the inspiration and motivation of a single child,
one of the world’s greatest children’s charities developed globally.

Today, Variety – the Children’s Charity has a network of 42 offices in 13 countries, and many millions of individual children around the world, like Catherine, live a better life because of the generosity of Variety’s donors, sponsors and supporters. When Catherine turned 5, foster parents were selected from more than 300 applicants. Catherine’s name was changed by her new parents, Gladys and Norman Riker, to Joan Riker and she grew up away from Pittsburgh to preserve her anonymity. Maturing into a fine young woman, Joan married in 1957 and raised her own family, sons Michael and twins Richard and Robert and a daughter, Lisa. Graduating as a nurse from Cornell University in 1951, Catherine/Joan spent a good part of her time proudly working with children.

Catherine/Joan passed away on September 9, 1994 at age 65, but her inspiration and motivation to help children in need burns brightly today through Variety – the Children’s Charity.

Unlike most charitable organizations that focus on a single disease or area of need, Variety focuses on multiple unmet needs of children who are sick, disadvantaged or live with disabilities and other special needs at a local, national and international level. Our aim is to maximize the real, long-term positive social impact for all children. Variety welcomes the support of any person who shares our ideals and objectives.


gold-heart-pin16 The Gold Heart Pin campaign is one of Variety’s most recognized and successful global fundraising initiatives. The campaign was created in 1991 in Great Britain by Variety International Board Member, Marsha Rae Ratcliff, who thought to create gold pins in the shape of hearts to raise funds to assist children in need. For the past seven years, Variety has launched a partnership with the motion picture industry to design and market the Gold Heart pins around Hollywood movie properties. This partnership between Variety and the motion picture industry has raised US$95 million dollars worldwide. Click here to purchase.


2016 Officers & Board of Directors


President: Michael Mathews, Community Relations and Events Director, Palm Springs Life Magazine Executive Vice President: Jim Haggerty, Realtor, HomeSmart Professionals Vice President: Ted Hane, General Manager, UltraStar Mary Pickford Theatre Secretary: Valerie Powers Smith, Attorney, Slovak Baron & Empey, LLP Treasurer: Jon Allen, CPA and Realtor, The Allen Group


Chuck Baum, Senior Account Executive, Lamar Advertising Rosie Casals, Owner, Sportswoman, Inc. Mike Czerwinski, Manager, Cord Media Tim Esser, Owner, Esser Air and Heating Steve Johns, Consultant, Promotions Barbara Klein, President, McCallum Theatre Education Marc Lodovico, General Manager, Vicky’s of Santa Fe Terri Neuman, Retired, Broadcasting Dan Pferschy, Entertainment Director, Agua Caliente Resort Casino Doug Watson, Retired, Hospitality Industry


Todd Marker, Owner, Marker Broadcasting


May 20, 2016 - Variety Sponsors $1 Movie Mornings at Regal Rancho Mirage for families and young children.
May 24, 2016 - Workshop Kitchen + Bar to participate in Negroni Week with proceeds benefiting Variety -The Children's Charity of the Desert
April 09, 2016 - Boy with cerebral palsy receives mobility bike in Cathedral City Kelley Moody, News Reporter - KESQ & CBS Local 2, kelley.moody@kesq.com


Click here to view our most recent newsletter!
Click to watch Joshua our newest recipient of an adaptive bike!


youngvariety1 Young Variety of the Desert is a proactive group of dynamic, kind-hearted Coachella Valley professionals ages 21-40. We offer a fresh perspective on fundraising and awareness-building for Variety the Children’s Charity of the Desert and its mission to serve children with physical and mental disabilities in the Coachella Valley. We strive to attract respected young leaders with the desire to contribute and help local kids in need. The group is administered by its own board of directors and will involve subcommittees in which members can become involved. Membership is just $25 annually. Members advocate on behalf of Young Variety’s mission, fundraise to support programming and volunteer at events. Your membership makes an immediate impact. The $25 membership dues cover the cost of items that assist with communication, inclusion or mobility for a Variety child. Click here to join!


Unlike most charitable organizations that focus on a single area problem or issue, Variety of the Desert focuses on multiple unmet needs of children who are sick, disadvantaged or live with disabilities and other special needs in our valley. Our aim is to maximize the real long term positive social impact for all children through these special programs.

Become a Volunteer

Throughout the year, we host and participate in a variety of events to raise funds or create inclusive opportunities for children with special needs. We need all kinds of help from General Volunteering - Graphics - Web Design - Host Mixer Donations - Host Fundraising Events - Fundraising - Office Help - Products - Gift Certificates. If you’re interested in volunteering, click Apply Now for the full volunteer form.



Every year Variety – the Children’s Charity of the Desert vastly improves the lives of children living with disabilities, disadvantage or illness locally. You, our donors, partners, supporters, volunteers and sponsors make this long-term positive social impact happen. Without your generous support, many children would not have the opportunity to reach their full potential. It doesn’t take much to make a big difference in a child’s life. Every donation, large or small, helps. Don’t ever think, “My support won’t make much difference.” It does!


People from all walks of life can serve children through Variety by becoming a regular donor, attending an event, organizing a fundraising event, or leaving a bequest in their will.

Regular weekly, monthly, bi-annual or yearly donations not only make an enormous difference to Variety’s ability to plan and fund larger projects such as Sunshine Coaches, or expensive specialist equipment but also to meeting the growing demand from individual children and their families.

The donation amount is not important - every dollar is valuable and helps make a difference to a child.

Click to make donations online - including 21st Annual 'Care for Kids' Radiothon!

TO DONATE BY MAIL - Please make your check out to Variety of the Desert and mail it to:

Variety of The Desert - The Children's Charity 74-040 Hwy 111 Ste. L-231 Palm Desert, California 92260

Bronze Supporter $75-$199

Silver Supporter – $200-$499

Gold Supporter – $500-$999

Platinum Supporter $1,000+


We are delighted to be working with our wonderful partners, all of whom have been amazingly generous in helping us promote and protect the health and well-being of underprivileged and special needs children in the Coachella Valley. A heartfelt thanks to our Corporate Sponsors! Please visit their individual websites to see who is supporting Variety the Children's Charity of the Desert.
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As one of the prominent children’s charities of the Coachella Valley, we would like to extend the opportunity to you to give back to our community’s children and build the foundation for our Camp of Champions program. The Camp of Champions program recognizes local, underprivileged school children who have good grades and demonstrate good behavior. They are rewarded with a special day of sports, exercise and peer camaraderie. They can play hockey, soccer and in some cases, the younger ones will be able to enjoy bounce houses too! In 2015, this program touched the lives of over 60,000 local students! Your sponsorship donation will help to underwrite these worthwhile events. As a $1,000 sponsor you will benefit as well. Sponsor benefits include:
  • Monthly passes to Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16 and Mary Pickford Theatre Value - $720
  • On-air recognition as a bike donor during Variety’s 21st Annual Care for Kids Radiothon Value - $200
  • Listing on Variety’s website with a link to your company/organization’s site
  • Variety Corporate and Individual Sponsor plaque
To learn more, please call Variety at 760-773-9800 or email us at variety@varietyofthedesert.org.




Join us throughout the year for fun Variety for Kids events!

Celebrate Success of the 21st Annual ‘Care for Kids’ Radiothon at BAR Nov 3

November 3, 2016 at 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm
Place: Bar - 340 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs


Please contact us to learn more about Variety and connect with us on social media!

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Variety of The Desert - The Children's Charity

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