Fossils fuel student education

By Nancy Gutierrez

For most of the 17 years that Martha Sandoval worked at Wilson Middle School she lead a group of students that purchase school supplies to give to classmates in need.

The group raised money by selling burritos in a booth during Fall Festival. Then Sandoval moved to Lincoln Elementary School and was not able to participate in the project of providing low income students with school supplies. As longtime volunteer with the Exeter Fossils, Sandoval approached her fellow Fossils about starting a similar project for junior high students.

"We thought she shouldn't have to handle that cost herself when the organization can do it," Fossil Barbara Fowler said.

The group took over Sandoval's mission; but instead of providing supplies to students in need, they decided to provide supplies to all of the children at one school site in the Exeter Union School District each year. Fowler said there was no other community organization providing supplies to students in local schools.

"The fossils spent over $500 to put on the project," Fowler said. "There are about 600 students [at Wilson] and to be able to give them two items we had to have reams of paper and other items."

Fowler said Youth Recovery of Visalia, Office Club and Staples all contributed to the project with donations and reduced rates for the group. The money for the project came from the Fossils general fund which provided bags and boxes of materials for their Aug. 11 give-away.

Five cafeteria tables were covered with pens, pencils, folders, erasers, notepads and loose paper. As classes filed in, students were allowed to take two items and return to class.

The Fossils also donated supplies for teachers to pass out to students who exhibit good behavior.

"There are colored pencils, super-folders and highlighters for good students," Fowler said.

Once all of the students had taken their share, Fowler along with Pat McKee, gathered the left over supplies. The fossils have a special purpose for the left-over writing instruments.

Fowler said the pens and pencils will be donated on behalf of the organization in memory of Spc. Daniel Unger to the troops in Unger's Army unit. Daniel Unger, a 2003 graduate of Exeter Union High School was killed in action on May 25 during a mortar attack at Forward Operating base Kalsu, located 25 miles south of Baghdad. Sgt. Gilbert Sanchez, who Unger served under, will accept the donation on behalf of the unit.

"The troops are requesting other things like jerky, Gold Bond Powder, lip balm, lotion, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and good shampoo," Fowler said.

The Fossils will gladly accept material donations to be included in the care packages to soldiers in Iraq. They are also looking for monetary donations to help with the cost of shipping.

"We plan on packing five boxes that are 25-40 pounds each," Fowler said. "That's not cheap. We'd be grateful for any donations."

The group wants the packages to arrive in Iraq by Thanksgiving. Fowler said it takes 32 days for the packages to reach their destination. They will be sending the boxes during the week of Oct. 10.

The leftover folders will be used in the Fossil's children's gift store in Farmersville or will be saved for the next give-away. The Fossils plan to continue to provide supplies to schools each year. In 2005 they will hold the give-away at Rocky Hill Elementary School.

To donate to the shipment of materials headed to Iraq contact McKee at 592-4221, Ruby Clinton at 592-2737 or Loretta Havner at 594-5854.

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