Students with special needs experience the joy of work

Photo: Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group

The Walgreens store in Martinez has been open for only a couple of hours, and its candy shelves are in desperate need of attention.

Working intently to re-stock the Skittles, Big Hunks, Snickers bars and other sweet treats are Liliana Lopez, 20, and Mason Richardson, 18. They are students in the Martinez Community Academy’s (MCA) Transition Program, designed to teach independent living and vocational skills to young adults in need of special education services.

At times, matching the right candy with its proper spot on the shelves is a bit of a challenge. It’s sort of like piecing together a massive 3D puzzle. But with the help of their teacher, Merry Bell — along with plenty of persistence — the pieces come together.

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