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Aera in the Community Aug 13, 2020

Students are ready for learning with new backpacks, school supplies

Aera joined United Way of Kern County and Blessing Corner to provide classroom essentials in outlying areas struggling with COVID-19 job losses

More than 1,200 Kern County children have new backpacks and school supplies, thanks to a back-to-school effort aimed at rural areas.

Aera Energy partnered with United Way of Kern County (UWKC) and the faith-based organization Blessing Corner to provide the classroom essentials to students in late July and early August.

Families picked up the supplies at drive-through events at schools in McFarland, Buttonwillow, Greenfield and Shafter. The largest distribution took place July 31 at Sunset School between Arvin and Lamont, where 700 supply-filled backpacks were handed out to families who live in the Vineland School District.

“These are all impoverished areas,” said Rachel Hoetker, education manager for UWKC. “There is more need now than before COVID-19, due to job losses.”

The five drive-through areas were chosen because they had not been served by other back-to-school drive-up events in the county, she added.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas (in white shirt) talks with Mari Perez-Dowling, president and CEO of United Way of Kern County, during the drive-through event at Sunset School July 31.

Assemblyman Rudy Salas (in white shirt) talks with Mari Perez-Dowling, president and CEO of United Way of Kern County, during the drive-through event at Sunset School July 31.

Although most schools will operate under remote learning modules this fall, students are still expected to have supplies in their homes to boost learning, Hoetker added. That’s become especially challenging with many parents out of work.

“It’s sad that so many families don’t have the income to purchase school items,” she said. “We’re grateful for Aera’s support, and we know the families are too.”

Pens, pencils, notebooks, crayons, rulers, and scissors as well as dental hygiene kits, were in each backpack.

Watch this video of the back-to-school drive-up activities.

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DID YOU KNOW? Aera Energy is a three-time recipient of the Forbes America’s Midsize Employer List, placing ninth in the 2022 ranking and securing its spot in the top ten midsize companies to work for in the United States.

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