At the beginning of each school year, parents and students peruse stores to purchase the necessary school supplies. And since the start of the pandemic, hand sanitizer, face masks and disinfectant wipes have made their way to the top of the list. 

School districts are also forced to spend a chunk of their budget on disinfecting supplies to keep safe.

The nonprofit Project C.U.R.E. has taken that weight off the shoulders of the Tolleson Union High School District by donating hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to its seven high schools. 

“When businesses and nonprofits donate items such as these to school districts, it basically allows us to redirect federal dollars towards addressing learning loss and education. So that’s money that we don’t have to spend on the supplies, and then we still take advantage of that donation,” said  Joseph Ortiz, TUSD’s director of public relations and marketing.

The district received 31 cases of hand sanitizer and 15 cases of disinfectant wipes valued at about $3,150. 

Project C.U.R.E. primarily ships to countries in need of medical supplies. It receives donations from medical facilities throughout the state, and volunteers sort through and ship to clinics in over 130 developing countries. 

Heather Maher, operations director with Project C.U.R.E., said donating to local schools is out of the ordinary. 

“Up until really the last year, we have exclusively for the 32-year history of Project C.U.R.E. only done overseas shipments, and that’s what we’re returning to, but with COVID, we did do PPE relief locally to all seven of our networks. We did PPE relief to the hospitals and the schools and the clinics because they were hurting so bad during COVID,” Maher said. “This was just more of a continuation of that.”

The donation is a direct result of TUHSD’s affiliation with the Southwest Valley Chamber of Commerce, which asked if the district wanted to take advantage of the donation. The donation now allows for the high schools within the district to spend their budgeted money in other ways to benefit their students. 

“We obviously take the health and safety of our staff and students very seriously. So when given the opportunity, we would much rather utilize our limited resources for interventions and social-emotional supports to help our students recover from the impact of the pandemic than to have to use money for items such as these, which are still necessary, but because of the donation we didn’t have to direct the dollars in that direction,” Ortiz said. 

While in this case Project C.U.R.E. donated supplies, Maher said the nonprofit is always accepting donations and volunteers. 

“For the last 32 years we’ve been delivering health and hope to the world by shipping 40-foot shipping containers full of medical supplies to developing countries,” Maher said. “Project C.U.R.E. works because of our volunteers.” 

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