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June 23, 2021

United Way helps students start school year

Nearly 150 local students arrived at school this week with bags full of supplies thanks to a drive sponsored by the United Way of San Benito County.
Though the “Stuff the Bus” school supply drive got under way behind schedule compared to efforts in other communities such as Santa Cruz, volunteers were able to provide supplies to 142 local students who will start school in San Benito next week. The group collected so many items, they ran out of backpacks and began putting supplies in plastic bags provided by Target.
For two weeks, donation locations were set up at Hollister Round Table Pizza, Kmart, Rabobank, Staples, Target and the YMCA of San Benito County. Donors were asked to pick items from a list of school supplies or for a $25 donation, they could provide a full backpack to one child.
For the culmination of the event, volunteers gathered in the Target parking lot Aug. 17 with a county school bus that they filled with supplies. According to a press release from the United Way, the following individuals and groups helped out:
Eleven members of San Benito High’s boys’ water polo team packed the donated items for delivery. The high school team members included Dominic Barrios; Simon Coelho; Charlie, Jacob, Oliver Garcia; Cache Lompa; Johnson Merrell; Erol Moser; Jarred Murdaugh; Colton Owczarzak; and David Werolin. Team parents David and Kim Garcia, and Dena Gregory also assisted. San Benito County Schools Assistant Superintendent Christopher Rizzuto, United Way Board Member and San Benito County Supervisor Jerry Muenzer, and volunteers Brian and Tori Yamaoka sorted and packed supplies. Helen and Leila Swanson counted and organized the bus’s contents. Phil and Vicki Fortino’s assistance was also appreciated.
The San Benito County Office of Education staff members said they would select children in need to receive the school supplies.
“They did an amazing job of securing sponsors, informing the public, gathering the supplies and making arrangements for a very well-run event,” United Way Board President Mary Damm told board member Diane Barr and community volunteer Yvonne Claus Bessa.
Donations for the Stuff the Bus event are still being accepted. Stop by the United Way of San Benito County office at 350 Fifth St., in downtown Hollister or call (831)-332-7550 to find out how to donate.

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