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Cheers and jeers

September 8, 2012
The Leader Herald

CHEERS - To a job well done. For a decade, Vanessa Sheppard, retired second- grade teacher at Pleasant Avenue School in Johnstown, spearheaded the backpack program for students in the Johnstown school district. Using private donations and grants, working with the PTA and getting assistance from Walmart, Vanessa purchased backpacks and school supplies for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The parents in the district would sign up in the spring for the program. In August, they could pick up the back-to-school backpacks filled with school supplies. Sheppard wrote and received grants for the program, bought supplies, received donations and, with her daughter Jennifer Caputo, filled the backpacks. She would notify the parents of the day the backpacks were to be picked up, and would distribute the backpacks at each of the elementary schools. This last school year, Vanessa met with each elementary school's PTA and turned the program over to those PTAs. The program provided between 450 and 500 backpacks for students. The best thank you Vanessa could receive is to see that this gift back to the students continues for decades to come.



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