With the uncertainty surrounding distance learning, the community is stepping in and stepping up. Shortly after Daniel Villalobos Madrigal posted his idea to “adopt” local classrooms on Galt community Facebook pages, he had dozens of responses. Only four days after posting, he had received enough donations to fill the wish lists of four teachers on two different campuses.

“I believe that every child deserves equal access to education, and an important part of that is equal access to materials,” Villalobos Madrigal said. “I take it so personally because I know a lot of teachers who are spending obscene amounts of money out of pocket.”

Villalobos Madrigal, who graduated from Galt High School in 2010, had his plans for both his wedding and for starting law school placed on hold due to the pandemic. Having volunteered with L’Chayim’s back-to-school backpack drives in the past, he decided instead to use his time to help teachers and families he knew must be struggling with the prospect of returning to school remotely.

“I think a lot of parents are feeling a financial crunch right now, so to be able to help in this way is all around beneficial,” Villalobos Madrigal said. “The teachers spend less money, the families spend less money, and we’re making sure the students still have everything that they need.”

Villalobos Madrigal reached out on Facebook with his idea and was able to not only connect with local teachers who needed help, but also many community members who were willing and able to offer that support. After asking teachers to create a list of supplies they needed for their classrooms (virtual or not), Villalobos Madrigal’s volunteers went shopping and left the items out for him to collect, or sent him money to do the shopping himself.

Among the items that teachers asked for are basic art supplies, pencils, erasers, sheet protectors, expo dry erase markers, hand sanitizer and Kleenex. Other school supplies, such as backpacks or gently used laptops, are welcome as well.

“A lot of giving back is about recognizing the individuals who shape our community, and I don’t think anyone else more deeply deserves this recognition right now,” he said.

But, aside from this, the project has hit surprisingly close to home for Villalobos Madrigal.

“One of the first teachers to reply was my first grade teacher and 20 some odd years ago, I was in her first class ever,” he said. “Another one of the teachers who reached out was a girl I went to high school with, and this is her first year teaching, so it’s come full circle for me. I’m able to help one of my first teachers and another in her first year. It’s really cool.”

And his vision goes well beyond the start of the school year. He hopes to continue to collect donations of supplies and money in order to help as many teachers as possible throughout the school year.

“The goal is definitely to keep it going throughout the year,” he said. “Ideally, every classroom would be adopted in Galt.”

Those wishing to get involved with Villalobos Madrigal’s initiative can reach him at dvillalobos954@aol.com or reach out on one of his posts on the “People of Galt” Facebook page.