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Helping Communities

Donating to Schools During COVID-19

Teachers at middle school with red supply carts

Fifth-grade teachers at Stanly County Schools move from class to class easily, thanks to donations to their school for these carts.

You’re in the middle of a worldwide pandemic. You want to help out, and you want your efforts to have a real impact. So, you’re searching for the right opportunity to do the most good. Here’s one: donating to schools. After all, if you help the children, you help the future.

When teachers and other educators planned to bring back students for the school year, they faced circumstances no one had encountered for 100 years. Yet, in the face of COVID-19, they remained focused on their mission to teach kids and build their characters.

During their preparations, they encountered obstacles like how to efficiently move between classes in a socially distanced environment and how to ensure adequate internet access for remote learning. They also had to plan for safe lunch settings and deal with pandemic-driven economic issues.

This is where donating to schools can be difference-maker. If you give educators a leg up with funds they can use to benefit kids, they can change the landscape of learning.

 

The Challenge: Donating to Schools

WoodmenLife saw the situation as an opportunity to emphasize our commitment to families and communities across the country. Teacher dedication inspired us to make the school year better for students.

Our main motivation was to match their efforts with a show of support and to show our commitment to future generations. Donating to schools was a natural expression of this commitment, which gave rise to WoodmenLife’s Back-to-School Challenge in August.

The challenge asked WoodmenLife chapters to donate $500 to a local Title I school to use how it saw fit. That’s because the effects of COVID-19 impacted schools both in universal ways and unique ways. All needed to ensure the ability to separate students to keep them safe. Some needed to created Wi-Fi hot spots or maintain sustainability programs.

 

Donating to School Keeps Teachers on the Move

Stanly County Schools in North Carolina decided to move its fifth graders from the elementary schools to the middle schools to create more space. As part of the district’s plan, students would remain in their classrooms and teachers would rotate in and out.

Melissa Eudy, a teacher whose daughter is a fifth-grader, asked fifth-grade teachers what they needed to make their transition easier. They told her toolbox-like carts would be ideal, and she took to social media to raise funds for five carts at $200 apiece.

Money for three carts had been raised when the issue came to the attention of Chapter 25 in Albemarle, NC. Soon, money for the remaining carts and supplies to fill them was in hand.

“I am getting chills just remembering how I felt when I was called,” Eudy said. “The community coming together to support these teachers was absolutely awesome to witness. I am so thankful to have been a small part of it. It has changed things for these five teachers and made their lives a little easier in this trying time. “

She said one of the “coolest things” about the donations was the chain reaction it kept going. “Soon other schools were doing similar projects to raise money for carts for their teachers, as well,” Eudy said. “Kindness is contagious!”

 

Lunch Seating ExpandsOutdoor lunch table for high school students

Banks County High School in Georgia needed to limit the number of students in the lunchroom during meals. This effort included encouraging students to eat outside whenever possible, while following social distancing guidelines.

The donation from Chapter 264 in Commerce, GA, allowed the school to buy supplies for two picnic tables for students and staff to use at lunch. The school’s agricultural classes tables constructed by the tables, and they bear a plaque thanking WoodmenLife.

“Your support of our school and community is to be commended,” said Principal Christine Bray. “Thank you so much for the service you provide to make a difference in our lives.”

 

Student Lunch Debt Paid

Jones County Schools, like districts across the country, saw its school nutrition program hurt by COVID-19 and the school closings. The program lost funding, and it was impacted by families unable to pay their student lunch debts.

Intended to help cover unpaid student lunch accounts, the donation by Chapter 358 in Round Oak, GA, touched Jones County High School in a “very special way,” said Roslyn Foster, director of the Jones County School Nutrition Program.

“The generosity of caring adults and community partners like your organization help us keep hope and faith in the spirit of sharing,” she said.

 

Sustainability Program Gets a Boost

Thank you message that followed after a donation to the school.Sedalia Elementary in Sedalia, CO, believes in supporting one another and in sustainability. It created a sustainability program to teach students to care for what they have now and work to make sure it’s still here tomorrow.

The sustainability program also empowers students to set a good example, which they do in growing vegetables, herbs and fruit trees in gardens that require less water. They help tend to the school’s chickens, too, and feed them school-food waste.

When the school received the donation from Chapter 6004 in Castle Rock, it made a natural choice – to bolster its sustainability program, which is something it can control during an uncontrollable pandemic.

Principal Jeff Johnson thanked WoodmenLife. He said the money would be used to rehabilitate the school’s garden beds and repair the chicken coop.

 

Donating to Schools Makes an Impact 

  • North Greene Middle School staff in Greeneville, TN, thanked Chapter 111 in Greeneville for its donation by writing, “We want to express our gratitude for your donation to our school and students. We are so blessed to have wonderful organizations like WoodmenLife within our community to help support us during these unprecedented times. We truly appreciate you thinking of us!”
  • Cooper Elementary staff in Garland, TX, showed their appreciation for the donation from Chapter 4660 in Wylie, TX, with comments like, “Thank you for your love and support … you are appreciated;” “Thanks for helping our Cooper Cougars be successful;” “What a blessing to our students! Thank you.”
  • J.C. Lynch Elementary staff in Lake City, SC, expressed their gratitude to Chapter 268 in Lake City by saying, “Thank you all for your generous donation! We are so very grateful. We are going to use this donation to purchase additional classroom and art supplies for our students.”
  • Chapter 28 in Bainbridge, GA, sent $2,260 to Jones-Wheat Elementary in Bainbridge. The school purchased insurance for 113 students’ Chromebooks.
  • Chapter 2619 in Weslaco, TX, donated a total of $1,000 to North Bridge Elementary and Rodolfo “Rudy” Silva Elementary in Weslaco. The school district used the money to create Wi-Fi hotspots on school buses parked around the community. The hot spots deliver internet to students who don’t have it in their homes.

 

Making a Statement

“The Back-to-School challenge was another statement from our chapters about how much they support our communities,” said Robby Molony, Director, WoodmenLife Community Partnerships. “We know the chapters are ready to get back to pre-COVID activity, but they continue to support their communities any way they can. Despite the obstacles, WoodmenLife’s story for 2020 of giving back continues to shine.

“The response was impressive! We had 95% of our chapters — 789 of 827 — participate. In total, they gave $513,450.45 to 963 schools. Our chapters went above and beyond what was anticipated by over $118,000!”

To see how WoodmenLife chapters look to help their communities, visit WoodmenLife.org/Lead-and-Give/Chapters.

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