During a Friday morning assembly at Planada Elementary School, the Associated Students of Merced College (ASMC) shared the bounty of a recent donation drive meant to help Planada students who lost homes, access to portions of their school, and so much more after their community flooded in January.

ASMC President Jose Castillo, Treasurer Marisol Herrera and Area 5 Senator Esteban Tellez presented students with roughly $3,000 worth of backpacks, school supplies and lunch boxes, as well as bedding and cleaning supplies for displaced families.

ASMC collected the items from Merced College students, faculty, classified professionals and management in February in the weeks after the flooding. Due to scheduling challenges, the donation delivery was pushed to April 7.

Planada Elementary School District Superintendent Jose L. Gonzalez expressed deep gratitude to the ASMC.

“Their generosity reaffirms the continuity of our commitment to serving our community,” Gonzalez said. “At the end of the day, it’s not about what you have or even what you’ve accomplished. It’s about who you’ve lifted up. Thank you, ASMC, for lifting up our students and community.”

Student Activities Coordinator Raul Alvarez said the ASMC Executive Council had agreed back in August that doing more community service projects was an important team goal for the 2022-23 school year.

Working to help Planada Elementary was an easy sell to the ASMC team, knowing Alvarez and their ASMC Advisor Suzanne McGhee both graduated from Planada Elementary. Alvarez still lives in Planada.

Seeing the fruits of their labor on Friday, Alvarez was proud of the job well done.

“It went great,” Alvarez said. “[It made me think back] to being at my sister’s house when we had to leave home during the floods. We were sitting there and I was saying, ‘We’ve got to do something.’ We immediately thought of ASMC coordinating a donation drive. … We ended up focusing on getting things for the kindergarteners and first graders, because they were completely wiped out of things.”

Most of Planada flooded after an unprecedented amount of rain fell Jan. 9-10 on a town that was already saturated by weeks of steady rainfall. The flooding actually destroyed parts of Planada Elementary for a second time in five years.

“Seeing the students’ faces made me feel joy,” said ASMC President Castillo. “They’re happy, and that makes me happy. As a team, we accomplished our goal, and it felt great.”