U.S. Army gifts supplies to VUSD schools

U.S. Army representatives standing alongside staff and students at Ivanhoe Elementary School along with the bags of donated school supplies. Photo courtesy of Visalia Unified School District.

The U.S. Army donates over 1,000 pieces of schools supplies to four VUSD elementary schools courtesy of leftover supplies from their Soldier and Family Program

VISALIA – Thanks to a surplus of supplies, the US Army donated 1,200 school supplies such as pens and composition notebooks to four Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) elementaries. This is in large part due to the efforts of Kent Honley-Moore, the digital media manager of the Central California army recruiting battalion.

Honley-Moore personally sorted through the 1,200 supplies to ensure each of the four schools — Willow Glen Elementary, Ivanhoe Elementary, Goshen Elementary and Washington Elementary — received an even amount.

“We had a surplus of school supplies and they weren’t being utilized, so I (decided to) talk to the person in charge of that,” Honley-Moore said. “Then I went down a list of people who I knew (worked in education) and landed on Greg Price, who’s a family friend.”

According to Honley-Moore, after being contacted, Price — who is the president of the Visalia Unified Teachers Union — did some digging and found the four schools he thought would benefit from the supplies the most.

Once they made contact with the schools, Honley-Moore and those who assisted him, such as one of the battalion’s virtual station recruiters, began to put the supplies together so they could distribute them to the four elementaries.

“When the U.S. Army contacted us and let us know that they wanted to donate some school supplies to our district, we graciously agreed to take them in,” said Cristina Gutierez, VUSD’s public relations officer. “We’re super grateful for the donation, (as it) will help all of our kiddos supplement their supplies, and make sure our teachers are well stocked.”

The actual distribution happened on Sept. 27, after VUSD held a media event at Willow Glen, where the army representatives met with the district’s superintendent. Once the event ended, the army’s representatives visited the other three schools to deliver the supplies.

“Our Board has made nurturing partnerships to help students and families a priority through our One Visalia Connected initiative,” Superintendent Kirk Shrum said via statement. “Having our very own U.S. Army give back to our students like this exemplifies how partners play a vital role in our students’ success.”

This isn’t the first time the army has donated their excess supplies, which come courtesy of the Soldier and Family Program. Last December, the central California army recruiting battalion donated over 100 toys to the Valley Children’s Hospital, which Honley-Moore hopes to double this year.

“Through our Soldier and Family Program, we (typically) get a surplus of things to give out to soldiers and families and when we get down to what’s left, we always ask ‘what should we do with it,’” he said. “Ultimately, we try to give back to the community, show them some love and support, especially teachers, and especially for everything that’s happened (because) of COVID.”

Honley-Moore went on to stress the importance of assisting teachers when they can, and why he personally tries so hard to do so.

“The whole idea for me is reducing stress. If we can reduce the stress of teachers, and allow them to not have to worry about things like pencils and notebooks, we can allow them to focus on other things and projects for the students,” he said. “For me, helping out the community is just icing on the cake, if I could do more like that (handing out the supplies) every day, I would.”

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