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Response lagging for back to school supplies for struggling students

Donations for Ray of Hope’s Back to School Backpack, Hygiene and School Supply Drive have been slow thus far.

The reason for that, according to executive director Laura Vieira-Saunders, could be the uncertainty of the start for the upcoming school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During normal times, people often did their part to help out,” she said.

But with school starting with distance learning, Ray of Hope is scrambling to get backpacks, binders. folders / dividers, highlighters / felt pens, mechanical pencils / pens, calculators (including specific types), index cards, crayons / colored pencils, college ruled paper / notebooks, and hand sanitizers / Lysol wipes for its Student Success Program.

It was noted students from families with limited incomes still need supplies to learn at home as well as when they are eventually transitioned back into the classom

“Once the kids go back to school, we want them to be ready,” said Vieira-Saunders.

Providing youngsters referred to Ray of Hope by Child Protective Services, San Joaquin General Hospital and the local school districts, to name a few, with the proper nutrition is another problem. Vieira-Saunders said the reason for that is children in her non-profit organization lack the means to make it regularly to the free summer lunch programs due to their tough home life.

The Backpack, Hygiene and School Supply Drive, which kicked off on July 5, is scheduled to go through Aug. 5.

Students in the Ray of Hope program are also signed up for the Kids Cupboard Food Pantry services.

“They’re getting school supplies, clothes, hygiene (products), nutrition – that’s all they need to succeed,” Vieira-Saunders said.

Ray of Hope is encouraging businesses, various groups, churches and others to help out with backpack supplies, with the drop off points consisting of Cabral Motors, Pro Touch Auto and Ray of Hope's facility at 113 W. Yosemite Ave.

For more information, log on to Facebook and Instagram; call 209.597.0574, or email