It’s “FEEL GOOD FRIDAY” in our office and we are all feeling good about our small part in helping a local school. Several weeks ago I was driving into the office listening to the radio station, Mix 94.1, and as I was driving in they had a Principle of a local Las Vegas school on the line. This Principle, Sherrie Gahn, and her school, Whitney Elementary, had been spotlighted on the Ellen Degeneres Show and they were interviewing her about that experience and talking about what else we could do in the community. The situation that these students are in made my heart sink but I was so impressed by what this Principle and her staff were doing to help their student population out. More than 500 of 600+ students in this particular school are homeless. This is one of the highest homeless populations in any school in our district and it just blew me away! When I turned off the car and made my way into the office I immediately became engaged in a conversation with Michele. She too had heard this story on her way in and we both wanted to do something! We talked about how we could gather our children’s clothes and bring them in after our big conference was over. At the time we both knew we wanted to focus on the conference and once that was finished we could do more to plan to help this school. The idea was then put to rest, but not for long.
In a conference preparation meeting Joan mentioned that we had some extra items that would be leftover after our event and that we should donate them to a school. Michele and I locked eyes and knew this was the moment to inform Joan of the story we had heard. One profound part of the story Principal Gahn shared was when she found small ketchup packets were disappearing from the inventory and she saw a student pocketing the item. She went to tell the child that it wasn’t right to take things that don’t belong to them but a teacher pulled her aside and told her this was normal. The students take these packets of ketchup home and thats what they eat for dinner – they would make soup of it (see video below). We gathered more information and Joan shared our plan with our 238 attendees. After our event we would make a donation of supplies and money to this school. Joan encouraged our participants to look in their communities for schools that may have a similar need and do what they could to help.
During break at the conference the attendees starting asking if they could make a financial donation as well – soon a small glass bowl and hand written card were set out in the hall during their break and money was being dropped in at a rapid pace!
Today our team was so fortunate to be able to drive across town with our small donation to this school and we hope to continue to support Whitney as we move forward. We have been touched by this story and awakened to this reality that we can not ignore. We encourage you to do something in your communities where you see a need.
We brought a small box of clothes today but found that they can use clothes donations of any size or kind, not just children. The parents and siblings of these students also have a need for these items and they will fill it. We brought some toiletries and found that they are also in high demand – sometimes families must share a toothbrush because they don’t have one for every individual in their family. We brought school supplies and money and found that Principle Gahn also provides a food bank for these families that takes $1,700 a week to maintain. What she is doing is making it easier for these kids to learn, be focused, and have a safe place to go every day. We are humbled by this experience and look forward to providing support in many ways in the future. Thanks for all you do Principle Gahn and your staff at Whitney Elementary School!
18th Annual Conference Attendee Donations to Whitney Elementary School