Anyone who’s driven Interstate 8 toward California has seen the neat green rows of date palms. Some might have even stopped for a “date shake” in the small, unincorporated community of Dateland, about halfway between Gila Bend and Yuma.

What they might not realize is that Dateland is more than a roadside stop. The agricultural area is home to about 850 people, including 200 kids who attend the Dateland Elementary School.

Unfortunately, the local tax-base is stretched thin, and the school - part of the Hyder School District - often struggles just to support basic school services.

The Fort Yuma Rotary, along with Rotarian and APS employee Randy Candler, Yuma Construction Section Leader, has given support to the school district for several years. Its help includes providing both supplies and facilities for the children.

Candler knew the APS Yuma Service Center had recently upgraded their conference room with a new video conferencing system, and as a result of the remodel, some of the old conference room furniture - three conference tables and 20 chairs - would no longer be needed.

He immediately thought of Dateland Elementary and their need for resources like these.

Candler joined forces with Cody Culpepper, Truck Driver Yuma O&M representing the Internaltional Brotherhoood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). Together they delivered the furniture to the students at Dateland Elementary on Oct. 7.

“It was great to have the kids from the school involved in unloading and receiving the furniture,” Candler said. “Their enthusiasm on the receiving end is contagious.”

For his part, Culpepper commented, “I’m glad to be a part of giving back. Seeing the needs of those kids helps us realize how fortunate we are.”

Linda Aragon, representing the school, and Pat Koury, Hyder School District Superintendent, were also on hand to receive the donation.

Aragon shared that the kids often live in very challenging, poverty stricken situations.

“The school in Dateland has become the community center and in many cases is the only place in town where both kids and adults have recreation, social and learning opportunities,” she said.

In thanking APS for the donation, Aragon emphasized the furniture will serve many different functions and be used extensively.