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Sierra grad seeks donations for Texans
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Sierra High graduate Vanessa Arroyo lost most of her furniture and clothing in the Houston hurricane. Shes now working to collect items to help her neighbors back in Houston. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin

 Vanessa Arroyo lost most  of the clothing and furniture in her Houston apartment when that city was slammed by Hurricane Harvey that dropped a record 52 inches for a single storm in the continental United States.
Arroyo took the last flight to California on Friday on Southwest Airlines. She works for Southwest as a trainer of new employees for the airline she joined 10 years ago after college.  The Sierra High graduate said that while she lost furniture and clothes in her flooded apartment, many of her friends and neighbors are much worse off.  
When she arrived at the Manteca home of her parents  – Robert and Linda Arroyo– at 779 Folsom Way off of South Locust she found that friends and neighbors had gotten the word she was home and that she was willing to collect donations for Texans who had survived the hurricane who were left with little but what they had on their backs.
The donations of willing Mantecans wanting to help has been non-stop at the Arroyo’s front door filling three rooms and a patio with bags and boxes.  Her mom said she was awakened about midnight Thursday by a couple of thuds at the front door – finding two cars at the curb with people bringing more clothing donations.  
Help is also coming from Manteca’s Second Harvest Food Bank and from the Manteca Police Explorers who will be helping her pack boxes from the bags of donations stacked up in the Arroyo home later today.  Those two Explorer cadets are Explorer Sgt. Danial Vara and Cadet Roni Hafed.
Southwest Airlines told her they would ship any donations that she received to the flood zones, but she had to get the boxes to the Southwest depot at the Oakland Airport.  No problem, Second Harvest Food Bank CEO Paul Rodrigues said he would have a driver and a truck pick up the boxes at the end of the work day early in the week and transport the load to Oakland for her without charge.   The family had already transported one load to Oakland in a family pickup trucks but they have more to go.
Vanessa said what is most in need now for the affected Texas residents are toiletries rather than clothing: things like aspirin and Advil, toothpaste, tooth brushes, combs, baby formula, toilet paper, tissues, baby bottles, pacifiers, sanitary pads, tampons, mouth washes, deodorant, laundry soaps, new underwear, and lotions.
Recently retired CEO of the Food Bank in Manteca, Mike Mallory, said the survivors are already the focus of the international food banks with which Second Harvest is associated and to see that the people in Texas are getting enough to eat.
Vanessa’s mom Linda recalled her kids always helped everyone when they were in school, and Vanessa especially, who would always give away her lunch money so her friends could have a nutritious meal.  Her daughter chimed in saying her mom was no different, volunteering in countless orphanages in Mexico and in the Bay Area for needy children and churches before moving to Manteca.
Vanessa’s Dad Robert said he is planning to erect another canopy by their side gate where they can organize the many donations stored in the house.  With the receding water, the Sierra High grad hopes to fly back to Houston by Monday morning and get back to work at Southwest.
Manteca merchant Brenda Franklin, a Manteca Rotarian, said she had already contacted the small community of Rockport Rotary Club – a city that was hard hit by the storm to the east of Houston, asking her Manteca Rotary to help the community. She said she sees a need for children’s coats with the oncoming winter along with socks and sweaters for all the members of the stricken families hit by the flood waters. Franklin spent time on her computer Thursday checking with the Rotary clubs in those communities to learn of the residents’ needs first hand, reminding her Rotary Club friends who want to help,  that Rotary’s outreach efforts cost nothing,  giving totally to those in need.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email