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Edwards defender donates supplies, helps local school start year off right

Staff Sgt. Devon Sumter, 412th Security Forces Squadron Pass and Identification clerk, carts in more than 200 school supply items that he has collected over the past year in order to donate it to Irving L. Branch Elementary School students and teachers Sep. 7, 2012. Ms. Kathleen Wilson, Irving L. Branch Elementary School principal, accepted the donations on behalf of the school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jet Fabara)

Staff Sgt. Devon Sumter, 412th Security Forces Squadron Pass and Identification clerk, carts in more than 200 school supply items that he has collected over the past year in order to donate it to Irving L. Branch Elementary School students and teachers Sep. 7, 2012. Ms. Kathleen Wilson, Irving L. Branch Elementary School principal, accepted the donations on behalf of the school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jet Fabara)

Staff Sgt. Devon Sumter, 412th Security Forces Squadron Pass and Identification clerk, and Ms. Kathleen Wilson, Irving L. Branch Elementary School principal, pose for a picture after Sergeant Sumter donated more than 200 school supply items to Irving L. Branch Elementary School Sep. 7, 2012. Ms. Wilson accepted the donations on behalf of the school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jet Fabara)

Staff Sgt. Devon Sumter, 412th Security Forces Squadron Pass and Identification clerk, and Ms. Kathleen Wilson, Irving L. Branch Elementary School principal, pose for a picture after Sergeant Sumter donated more than 200 school supply items to Irving L. Branch Elementary School Sep. 7, 2012. Ms. Wilson accepted the donations on behalf of the school. (U.S. Air Force photo by Jet Fabara)

EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- It was a year ago when Staff Sgt. Devon Sumter, a Pass and Identification clerk with the 412th Security Forces Squadron, sought out to bestow Irving L. Branch elementary school students and teachers who were starting off the school year with a generous amount of school supplies that were donated to him, but due to a deployment, he was unable to at the time.

On Sep. 7, 2012, Sumter finally had his chance to bring in a year of supplies that he had gathered and bought in order to hand them over to Branch Elementary.

"It's not a normal thing when people come across something wonderful they want to share, but we have a really good base here. The community always reaches out to the school as much as they possibly can," said Kathleen Wilson, Irving L. Branch Elementary School principal. "As with the case today, we find that the community is always trying to give and trying to help the kids because they invariably know that sooner or later these kids will serve them, so it's nice when someone from the community comes to us and offers up these donations. It really lights up everyone's faces."

More than 200 school supplies, which included pencils, black and blue pens, crayons, journals, glue sticks, spiral binders, pencil cases, folders and calculators were collected by the school's principal who explained why this donation meant so much.

"Teachers everyday send in a requisition book to our secretary and they put a list of supplies they'll need for their classroom for various activities and projects. At times, we may have students who may not be able to afford certain things such as a spiral notebook or extra pens in the classroom," added Wilson. "They request items and if we don't have an item in our storage closet then we have to go and purchase it, so this will definitely alleviate that burden from our list of things that we have to buy now. This was a blessing and will definitely be put to good use."

After the items were carted in by Sumter, he had an opportunity to discuss with the school's principal as to why it took him until recently to bring the supplies in.

"A year ago, I came across the supplies by sending an e-mail to a unit secretary and I informed her that I was interested in putting together care packages for the unit. The unit secretary put me in contact with a representative who oversees donations in Tehachapi. I informed the representative that I was interested in getting things for care packages," said Sumter.

"The representative said she didn't have anything for care packages but she did have something for school supplies so I thought I'd take what I can get and I figured someone could use this. The only catch was that we'd have to drive to Tehachapi, so my unit training manager, Gary Wright, made the ride out there and picked up the school supplies."

Once Sumter had the school supplies, he said the only thing left was trying to figure out where to donate them and he chose Branch Elementary, but not before finding out that he was set to deploy for six months.

"I deployed for six months and have been back for three-and-a half months now. During that time, school was just starting and I was just getting ready to deploy, so I figured I'd hold on to these items until the start of the next school year," Sumter said. "This is the first time I've donated anything to a school. Having a child myself, when the time comes for my son to attend school, hopefully, someone has that same heart to be able to help."
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