Merced County Times Newspaper
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Planada teachers use donation site to help build back

Planada Elementary educators are enlisting the help of the community to get their classrooms back to pre-flood condition, with the help of Horace Mann agent Curtis Earheart of Earheart Insurance Services and DonorsChoose.

The school suffered considerable damage from last month’s flooding, and educators lost classroom materials they had worked years to accumulate. Principal Erica Villalobos says many of the items lost are not eligible for replacement, so they hope the generosity of others through DonorsChoose, an education nonprofit that empowers public school teachers to share the resources they need for their classrooms, will help provide the materials to restore learning centers and classrooms.

“After flooding damaged our school several years ago, we thought we had prepared for this disaster. We packaged up books, cleared the floors and set furniture up, but this time, the flooding was worse and reached areas of the school that had never been impacted before,” shared Villalobos. “We lost reading carpets, special chairs, décor and other items which created special learning centers in our classrooms. Our educators often used their own money to create those areas, and we just don’t have the funding to replace all of it.”

Horace Mann agent Curtis Earheart held a DonorsChoose workshop two weeks ago to assist Planada educators in posting projects.

“When I heard about all of the materials educators lost at Planada, I knew DonorsChoose would offer one way for these educators to receive the tools they need for their classrooms without having to dig deeper into their own personal funds,” said Earheart. “As a company focused on providing educators what they need to secure their financial futures, teaching them about DonorsChoose is especially important after a disaster like this.”

So far, ten projects for Planada have been fully funded – a total of around $5,000 contributed. Meanwhile, nine more projects are active and need funding. To find these Planada projects that need funding, go online to and enter “Planada Elementary School.”

“We are so thankful for our community and partners like Horace Mann,” added Villalobos. “We are struggling right now because we aren’t able to learn in our school. Our students are having to learn in unfamiliar settings and readjust. Restoring some of the classroom materials they are used to learning with will help them feel more comfortable and facilitate learning.”

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