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Sheriff’s STARS spearhead school supply donation effort
stars donation
Stanislaus County STAR Bill Terra, Cunningham Elementary School principal Janine Arakelian and lead custodian Anthony Nunes pose with school supplies donated to the campus by Wal-Mart in Patterson. - photo by ANGELINA MARTIN

Students at Cunningham Elementary School are writing, drawing and crafting with brand new supplies thanks to the Wal-Mart in Patterson, which donated a hefty trove of academic treasures to the campus on Friday with a little bit of help from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department STARS program.

As STARS volunteers, Bill Terra and his colleagues are responsible for not only working hand-in-hand with the Sheriff’s Department in the courts, coroner’s office, public safety center and the District Attorney’s office, but also work closely with schools in the county through the School Attendance Review Board. Terra visits the schools often, he said — something he began doing last January — and mentors students who may be falling behind in class or struggling with attendance.

It was this already-established relationship with local schools that led Terra to collaborate with Patterson Police Chief Marc Nuno to bring some much-needed supplies to campuses in need. Thanks to the generosity of Patterson Wal-Mart’s managers Jessica Hagerty and Kristen Wanner, 10 elementary and middle schools throughout the county, including Cunningham and Denair Charter Academy, received two pallets of pencils, crayons, markers, glue, scissors, binders, paper and more — enough supplies to fill 30 20-gallon tubs.

“There’s more supplies in there than you could believe,” Terra said of Cunningham’s haul. “I go to a lot of schools, but I knew they were one of the schools that could probably use the supplies.”

Cunningham principal Janine Arakelian said that donations like Friday’s are all the more important in low-income areas, where students may not have the same access to school supplies as kids at other schools.

“I think that our families here have unique needs, and the kids here are really going to benefit from this,” Arakelian said. “It’s exciting to get all of these brand-new, pretty things, and I think our kids will be really happy to receive them.”

The impact of the STARS on students goes far beyond donated school supplies, Arakelian added.

“It’s important to have that kind of support because all kids need a positive relationship with law enforcement,” she said. “(Terra) has been proactive, inviting and positive, and he’s created a great relationship with our students and staff.”