Bags of Hope – Fall/Winter 2012-2013
Even though Hurricane Sandy had hit New York and New Jersey months prior, many communities were still reeling from it’s impact. Many families were still in great need of basic necessities as they struggled to rebuild their lives. By partnering with local schools in some of the hardest hit communities, we were able to identify “wish lists” of families who desperately needed help. From basic toiletries and clothing to school supplies, we were able to solicit donations to fulfill specific needs. From there we coordinated and rented U-Haul trucks which we drove to specific drop-off locations in New York and New Jersey. While there we met many families who were grateful for the assistance. Some of the children even wrote thank you notes. Our very first coordinated effort helped us realize the power of individual generosity and the collective difference it could make!
Book Bonanza – Spring 2013
Book Bonanza grew out of Bags of Hope, and was sparked by an incredible experience we had while delivering a truck full of clothing, food and supplies to families in Plainfield. We coordinated the effort with New Jersey-based HOPES CAP (Community Action Program) and saw women and children come into the distribution center wearing only sweatshirts or thin jackets despite the temperature barely reaching the freezing mark, and then happily leaving bundled in warm winter coats and hats. The day, we thought, was pretty incredible and the teachers from the HOPES Head Start Program were amazing—they knew each of their students and their families, helping them find what they needed most. But, the most important thing was to happen later that afternoon after the crowd was gone.
As we cleaned up and grabbed a bite to eat, we sat down with the HOPES teachers. They told us how they served 270 families of kids between the ages of 3 and 5, providing them with a Head Start program that not only provided an education, but also gave each child two hot and nutritious meals every weekday. HOPES told us about their Early Head Start services to kids under 3, and prenatal care to women who were expecting. As they shared with us their story, one of the teachers told us how excited she was to see one of her students picking out all the books we had in our delivery, and putting them in her mother’s bag to take home. She reminded us that when a family is struggling just to eat or keep the heat on, they can’t afford luxuries like books; and, while the school has a library, it’s not the same as having a book of your own.
As we spoke, we thought about all the wonderful books we had on my shelves growing up; the joy of picking which book we would read that night; of my mother reading a book to me… and then the excitement when we were able to read the book to her. The memories instantly brought a smile to our faces and a warmness to our hearts.
Book Bonanza was born, and we managed to deliver more than 1000 children’s books to the families of HOPES in the spring of 2013. In addition, we delivered more than 200 small bookcases and spent the day with the children decorating the miniature book shelves and helping them pick out books of their very own. Book Bonanza was a great success!
Helping Highland Aim High
Highland Elementary School is located in Silver Spring, Maryland, and serves a culturally diverse population of over 530 students. Eighty-four percent of the students live in poverty and over 60% participate in English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs. Despite these obstacles, the school was named a National Blue Ribbon School in 2009, marking it as one of the nation’s outstanding public or private schools.
This success is due to the hard work of the students, teachers, staff, and community. Supporting them all is Linkages to Learning, a school-based collaboration among the county Health and Human Services, the public schools, and community-based nonprofit service providers.
Maintaining this level of success is challenging, however, especially in the current economic environment. Give 10 for 10 is collecting cash donations and supplies to help this school continue to provide these kids with opportunities to succeed in the classroom and in life.
Our Helping Highland Aim High initiative encouraged a multi-front approach to help support the students and staff of Highland Elementary. First, Give 10 helped match families’ wish lists to donors who were able to provide some much-needed necessities from school supplies to clothing. Second, Give 10 ran another book drive. Finally, Give 10 accepted donations on behalf of the school that teachers and staff utilized to purchase educational supplies.