Woodlake students play major role in donation drive for military members

WOODLAKE, Calif. (KFSN) -- Tuna, toiletries, granola bars, even games.

These were all items students and staff at Woodlake Valley Middle School have collected over the last month.

On Tuesday, the donations were loaded into cars of Central Valley Blue Star Mothers, who will soon ship them to service members around the world as part of their 4th of July package drive.

"It couldn't be better," said Central Valley Blue Star Moms President Chris Hofmann. "It's just very heartwarming."

Hofmann says items collected at Woodlake Valley and neighboring Woodlake High School supply the majority of what they send to service members during the summer.

Hofmann is the mother of a Marine sergeant on deployment, and shared his thank you letter to the Woodlake students on Tuesday.

"There's a lot of guys that don't receive anything from home," Hofmann said. "They don't have a lot of support, or maybe even a lot of family. "It's expensive to send the boxes. It costs about $19 to send each box overseas."

The partnership with Woodlake started three years ago, when Woodlake Unified School District Prevention Education Coordinator Ray Salazar saw the Blue Star Moms in the news.

He thought the Woodlake community could help the non-profit.

It has. And donations have increased each year.

"A lot of it comes from our State Foods (grocery store)," Salazar said. "We had a $500 donation given to Blue Star Moms from our Woodlake Drive-In who is very instrumental in giving. He helps out a lot in the community. We had Woodlake Hardware store also provided lots of donations."

Senior Pria Bun is a daughter of a Marine and spearheaded the donation drive at Woodlake High School.

On Tuesday, she presented the Woodlake Drive-In check to Central Valley Blue Star Moms.

Bun hopes the collection continues to grow after she leaves for college.

"They're risking their lives and doing things for our country for us to be where we are today," Bun said. "And (this) just gives back a lot. It's just a simple thank you."
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