As summer starts to wane, I find myself eager for autumn's cool afternoons, anticipating apple cider and strolls through the shifting foliage. Excited as I am for sweater season, however, I also know that for many families in my community the days hold the back-to-school rush which bears challenges for parents and children alike. This year, I was alarmed to learn that due to large cuts in funding, a nearby public school — Grout Elementary — will no longer be able to provide school supplies to hundreds of its students. Regretfully, this loss of funding will impact children from families who have recently immigrated to our country (very specifically the children living in Kateri Park, an affordable housing community aimed at offering homes and services to Portland's immigrant population).
In my time volunteering with Pre-K and After School programs within the impacted community, I've had the privilege of meeting many of the children affected by this change first hand. Many of them have come from other countries. Among other demographics, they are Somali Bantu, Somali, Oromo, Nepalese, and Burmese. Many are first learning to speak English, but this is where our differences end. Like all children, they are bright-eyed and curious, bubbling with energy, loving and troublesome and often suspiciously sticky. Like all children, they deserve every possible resource to let them learn and grow confidently into the future. For this reason, I'm reaching out to all of you, to as many people as I know, to try to gather supplies and raise money so we can make sure that these children know that they're welcome in our city, that they have the support of a wider community, and to ensure that they have all the tools they need for success.
If we're able to meet this fundraising goal by August 16th, we'll have provided school supplies for every student in this community from grades K to 3rd. For those who live locally and may have unused (or only slightly used) school supplies, please reach out to me as well and I'll be happy to gather these items and deliver them; priority needs include Composition Notebooks, Pencils, Markers, Youth-sized Backpacks, and Liquid Glue.
Additional needs include:
-Fine Point Black Sharpies
-Dry Erase Markers
I know that for many of us - myself included - it's often easy to feel powerless these days, but I promise you that this isn't the case. Right here we have an opportunity to create immediate, measurable impact in the lives of children within a vulnerable population; I hope you'll join me in taking it.
Please do share this campaign with any who might be incline to donate and feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
- Jennifer Saunders
- Jared Smith
- Hope and Jory Langner
- Paula Wall
- Sherry Bauman