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Ten schools within Stanislaus County that have attendance struggles and families in need are being gifted with student supplies thanks to a retailer and the Sheriff’s Department.
Bill Terra, a volunteer with the sheriff’s STARS citizen volunteer program, is a member of the Stanislaus County Office of Education’s School Attendance Review Board. Through SARB, he visits schools to talk with students who have chronic absenteeism. The kids and their families have been given directives, so he follows up to see they’re being met.
Terra and his wife, Louise, have nine children, seven of them adopted. He really values doing the SARB work because the couple “know how important it is for the children to have somebody they can talk to” about what’s going on in their lives.
Mercedes Morales, student service assistant at Capistrano Elementary School, said Terra is a “huge contributor” to the school. He reaches out to families to help them get the resources they need, and he regularly visits the campus to discuss with students about the importance of being in school.
The three middle schools and seven elementary schools receiving the supplies all are on Terra’s SARB list. “They’re all schools I’ve worked with, where I’ve built a rapport with the principal and staff,” he said. “Every school that I picked, I knew they could use the school supplies.”
Terra and Patterson Police Services Chief Marc Nuno reached out earlier this year to the managers of the Walmart in Patterson, Jessica Hagerty and Kristen Wanner, seeking a donation of school supplies. They received two pallets’ worth — enough to fill 30 plastic bins of 20 gallons each.
Each school is getting three bins, which include glue, colored pencils, scissors, construction paper, binders and more. At the elementary schools, they’ll go to classrooms in the lower grades, Terra said.
Tuesday morning, the Terras and Sheriff Jeff Dirkse’s wife, Sandi, delivered bins to Capistrano, which is in the Empire Union School District. They were welcomed by leaders of the student body, President Aubrey Medrano, Vice President Emily Rontal, Secretary Maxine Pollard and Treasurer Dahlia Lucero.
Aubrey said the donation is greatly appreciated because students are given just a little bit in the way of school supplies at the start of the year. And things like pencils, glue and paper are used up quickly.
The other schools receiving supplies this first year of what Terra calls a pilot program are Las Palmas Elementary in Patterson, Grayson Elementary in Westley, Von Renner Elementary in Newman, Empire Elementary, Chrysler Elementary in Modesto, Cunningham Elementary in Turlock, Spratling Middle in Keyes, Mountain View Middle in Crows Landing, and Denair Charter Academy.