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Group collects items for back-to-school
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Sara Henry is looking to help out youngsters in Manteca and Lathrop by taking up a collection for back-to-school supplies.

She’s one of the founders and the San Joaquin coordinator for JustPayIt4ward, a local non-profit group helping people in need, kicking off a drive to assist the homeless.

Manteca Unified reported some 500 students as homeless during the past year.

“We also want to target multiple families who are trying to figure out how to go about providing school supplies and clothing for this year,” she said on Tuesday.

The goal for JustPayIt4ward is to send kindergarten- through- 12th grade youngsters back to school with all the proper supplies necessary to their education.

Henry understands the need here.

“I was once among the homeless,” Henry said. “My mom had the three of us living in a motel (on Moffat Boulevard) at one point – I know what they go through.”

For K-8, JustPayIt4ward Is looking to collect an eight-pack of crayons, No. 2 pencils, backpacks, folders, backpacks, pencil sharpeners, notepads, brown paper bags (for book covers), and lunch bags.

Secondary or high school supplies needed are three-inch / three-ring binders, college ruled binder paper,  blue / black ink pens, pen / pencil bags (for binders), calculators, college ruled notebooks, backpacks, and folders.

Henry, who grew up in Manteca, returned to the area in 2008. During last year’s Rim Fire at Yosemite National Park, she and two others – included was Jennifer Jordan-James of Oakdale – decided to help those affected by the disaster by taking up a donation. They collected hygiene products, non-perishable food items, and two trailers filled with bottled water, to name a few.

From that, JustPayIt4ward was born. Jordan-James is taking up a similar school supply drive but for K-12 students in Valley Home and Oakdale.

“We would like to gather all of the supplies for both locations a week before the start of school,” Henry said.

Items can be arranged for pickup by calling JustPayIt4ward at 209.482.8470.

Money donations are also acceptable.

In the past year, the group also took donations to help needy families during Thanksgiving (dinner) and Christmas (food and gifts for the children).

For more information, log on to JustPayIt4ward at Facebook.