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THOUSAND OAKS : Plan May Cushion Blow of Budget Cuts

Richard Terry believes he’s discovered a way to cushion the blows of school budget cuts.

Drawing from his experience as an advertising specialist, the 45-year-old Woodland Hills minister and father of three has founded a program called Save Our Schools as a vehicle to donate thousands of bleacher cushions to area high schools.

Terry launched the not-for-profit program last year, donating 1,000 cushions to each of three Ventura County high schools.

This year, Save Our Schools will donate 1,000 cushions each to 13 schools, including Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake, Royal, Simi Valley and Oak Park high schools.

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The cushions, emblazoned with each school’s name and logo on one side and local advertisements on the other, are sold by booster clubs to generate much-needed funds for school activities.

“Every time you turn around, the budget is being cut,” Terry said. “The programs I enjoyed when I was in high school are just not there for students anymore.”

Barbara Safe works in the athletic department at Thousand Oaks High School, which received 1,000 cushions from Save Our Schools.

She said the school raised about $2,000 selling the cushions to students and parents last year. But this year, she expects sales to improve.

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“Now that we have experience, it will be more successful,” Safe said.

Safe said the cushions arrived too late in the year for football season, and about 675 were left at the end of the year. At graduation, cheerleaders sold all of them for $1 each.

Newbury Park High School boosters gave the cushions to new members of the football booster club as an incentive to join last year, club President Dennis Turville said.

“We used them as a kind of promotional item and we’re going to push them again this year,” he said. The club also sold the cushions for $2 apiece during games.

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Terry said the project needs the cooperation of parents, community members and local businesses in order to work. Terry is encouraging the businesses that advertise on the cushions to display stickers in their windows to show their support for the schools.

Advertising fees pay for the cost of the cushions as well as the printing, Terry said. About 50 cents per cushion is reinvested in the program to cover handling and processing fees.


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