Network of strangers across the country helps save school supply shipment for Sunnyvale students in need – NBC Bay Area


Of all the things Sunnyvale Community Services does to help local families in need, and there are many, their annual school supply giveaway is one of General Manager Marie Bernard’s favorites.

“It’s one of the biggest and most joyous events of the year,” said Bernard.

So when nearly 2,000 boxes of school supplies were ordered well before this year’s contest, everything looked good.

It was even better when the boxes were shipped from the supplier in Indiana, Pennsylvania to a warehouse in Memphis, Tennessee. Yet that is where they were sitting.

“They were sitting there and sitting there and sitting there,” Bernard said. “The shipping company was overwhelmed with orders and didn’t have enough drivers.”

SCS staff members checked and rechecked the status of the shipment. Towards the end of July, they realized it was nearing the point of no return to get supplies to Sunnyvale in time for the organization’s giveaway, scheduled for early August.

This one shipment became Barnard’s only obsession. “I said, ‘We have to get this out of Memphis. We will not accept no for an answer. “”

Less than a week before the event, Barnard reached out to people she knew could get things done: her fellow members of the Rotary Club of Sunnyvale.

Club president Barry Vickrey lived in Tennessee and knew people who knew people.

“It was this amazing network. Bing, bing, bing, bing,” Bernard said. “One person said, ‘I don’t know what it is, but I’ll call that person and you’ll get a call from someone or you can get an email from that person and we’ll do it.’ “

Three separate Rotary clubs in Memphis have joined in the effort to free up school supplies, and even FedEx executives have gotten involved. Eventually, a lone driver willing to travel the 2,000 miles across the country was found. The supplies arrived hours before the children and their families who were waiting for them.

The driver was called Walter.

“He had a big smile and what he said was, ‘I heard you really need it by tomorrow,'” Barnard said. “It’s overwhelming.”

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