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Local organizations collect school supplies, backpacks for students in need

Local organizations collect school supplies, backpacks for students in need

Better Supplies for Better Lives members Sharokeena Atanus (left) and Brina Patel (far right) help Maria Navarro at a fundraising yard sale on Tuesday.


POSTED July 26, 2011 10:22 p.m.

While summer is still in full swing, the new school year is just three weeks away and that means back to school shopping. For many families, however, the cost of backpacks and school supplies is overwhelming.

“There’s a huge need in our area,” said Gil Ogden, director of Student Services for the Turlock Unified School District.

The school district distributes 1,000 to 2,000 donated backpacks filled with school supplies each year.

“I’ve seen kids start crying when they get it because they’ve never had anything new,” Ogden said.

In the past MedicAlert held a Crayons to Calculators campaign and donated up to 1,500 backpacks and pallets filled with school supplies to TUSD. The local nonprofit ended that campaign two years ago.

That is why local organizations are stepping in to fill the need. Sleep Train, Turlock Seventh-Day Adventist Church, First United Methodist Church and Better Supplies for Better Lives are just four of the groups currently collecting backpacks and school supplies for needy local children.

The six young women who make up the organization Better Supplies for Better Lives held a fundraising yard sale on Tuesday, with all proceeds going towards the purchase of school supplies for local homeless children.

The group’s founder, Megan Holm, said her experiences with the Gallo Early Start Leadership Camp gave her the skills to help others.

“We want to give homeless children a backpack full of supplies before the start of the school year,” Holm said.

The group has also solicited donations from local businesses and received support from the Kiwanis Club of Greater Turlock.

The Turlock Seventh-Day Adventist Church started a Project Backpack campaign this year with the goal of collecting 500 backpacks for the upcoming school year.

On Sunday, the church will hold a drop off collection at numerous sites in Turlock. That same day the Turlock Seventh-Day Adventist Church will hold an outreach event with vendors including WIC, Healthy Families and the Turlock Fire Department.

“It is part of our ministry to look at how we can serve our community, and after I talked with elementary schools they told me this would be the best way we could help,” said coordinator Brenda Proetel. “Our church teaches us to be good not only to your own children, but also other kids in the community as well.”

The Turlock First United Methodist Church has been collecting school supplies from its members throughout the month of July and will fill 100 backpacks on Sunday for TUSD students.

“It was important for us for the project to be local and make a tangible difference for children in Turlock,” said Turlock FUMC Rev. Joe Major. “Projects like this make God’s love visible in the world.”

Nationwide mattress retailer Sleep Train has been collecting school supplies for foster kids for the past four years.

“We remember the excitement of the first day of school, and the anxiety, too. For foster children, anxiety often outweighs the excitement, creating and barrier for them to succeed. Our award-winning program works to give foster children the same foundation as their peers from which they can grow, flourish and succeed in school, and, ultimately, as adults. And, we make it easy to participate — just pick up a few new school supplies while you’re already out shopping and drop them at the Turlock Sleep Train or any nearby Sleep Train,” said Terry Horsley, vice president of brand strategy for Sleep Train.

While having the right supplies at the beginning of the school year can start a student on the path to success, Ogden said that many students are also in need of shoes and proper clothing.

“A lot of our kids don’t have shoes or they’re hand-me-downs,” said Ogden. “And kids are coming to school in December and January in T-shirts and short pants.”

Ogden said his office accepts donations of school supplies, shoes and clothing throughout the year to distribute to campuses in the district. To contact Ogden about donating supplies to needy students in the TUSD, call 667-0887.

To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail khacker@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.

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