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Community helps students and teachers go back to school

Posted On 25 Aug 2019
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Wayne Memorial High School junior Brooke Johnson shares about “Community Circle’ at Concerts in Goudy Park. Photo by Ryan Wright

By Carolyn Marnon – Although it seems like summer just started, it’s already August and time to think about getting the kids ready to go back to school. For students and teachers, this can be a costly event. So many school supplies and backpacks to buy, getting the kids registered and making sure all those plans you had for summer activities are still carried out.
Two Wayne residents took it upon themselves to start school supply drives but with very different focuses. Here are their stories:

Krissy’s Pantry is about more than dogs and cats
Jackie Olweean wanted to help local families by hosting a Back to School Backpack Drive targeted to elementary-aged students. Her goal is to receive and fill 50 backpacks for struggling families. “Most of us know how hard it can be to try to fit school supplies into an already extremely tight budget!” wrote Jackie on the Facebook page she runs called “Krissy’s Pantry.” Krissy’s Pantry collects pet food and pet supplies which Jackie then delivers to local residents (mostly elderly and disabled) who need some help taking care of their beloved pets.
The cut-off date for donations to this drive is August 16. Donations can be dropped off at ICON Computers, 35858 W. Michigan Ave, or Jackie can pick them up at your convenience.
The following is a generic list of supplies needed:
Glue sticks

2 pencils

Wide ruled notebooks
Wide ruled loose leaf paper
Large pink erasers
Folders with fasteners
(solid colors)
Dry erase markers
flash cards
24 count boxes of crayons
Index cards
Hand held pencil sharpeners
Gallon/sandwich size bags

The filled backpacks will be given away during a raffle that takes place on Sunday, August 25, at 1:00 p.m. at ICON Computers. The event will be set up in the parking lot, so attendees are asked to not park in the parking lot.
If you are so moved, Jackie would appreciate any donations to Krissy’s Pantry you may have. “We’re still here,” says Jackie. “Outreach has become increasingly difficult due to the lack of donations coming in. Sadly, the hardest thing for me to do is to have to tell people I can’t help. If anyone would like to donate, the following is a list of what we are in need of: canned and dry dog food, dog treats and chew bones, puppy pads, dog toys, canned and dry cat food and kitty litter.” This is an ongoing collection throughout the year. Donations can be dropped off for Krissy’s Pantry at ICON Computers anytime they are open.

Community can start with a kid
Brooke Johnson will be a junior at Wayne Memorial High School next month. After attending the Civitan Youth Leadership and Diversity Conference in Angola, Indiana last month where she learned about ongoing issues in education, Brooke came home to become the change she wanted to see. With the mission of “helping shape the community’s smallest hands to do great things” she started a Facebook page called “Community Circle” to assist her in a project of collecting school supplies for the 2019-2020 school year that would be delivered to 179 upper and lower elementary school teachers this month.
“I know that many students, especially in the Wayne-Westland Community School District, struggle to acquire the supplies necessary to be successful in their studies. I also know that teachers struggle with being able to provide these supplies to their students because they have minimal funding and resources. To try to lessen this issue, I have decided to make care packages for each classroom (upper and lower elementary) in Wayne-Westland. These care packages will include extra school supplies for teachers to give to students as they see necessary. Although it is just something small, I am hoping that this donation will relieve some of the burdens on low socioeconomic status students, as well as our educators,” wrote Brooke on the gofundme page she also created.

Brooke was able to enlist businesses to help her by being drop-off locations for the collection. These included Karma Coffee and Kitchen, Helium Studio, O’Dell Chiropractic, Toarmina’s Pizza and Tim Hortons. She also collected supplies during the Wednesday night concerts in Goudy Park. She also set up an Amazon Wishlist from which she received donations. The deadline for donations was August 3.
Brooke looked at class supply lists and the number of teachers on each school’s website to determine which supplies to collect and how many.
The most donated item was glue sticks. “Having a surplus of items is okay, as I will just add extra to the care packages,” said Brooke. “One item that people seem to not be donating as much as we hoped for would probably be dry erase markers. Many classes have students using dry erase boards for activities and those markers are actually costly but essential for the student to have.”
The biggest challenge with this event was marketing and getting the word out about what she was trying to do. With plans to continue this supply drive next year, Brooke says “I will definitely be starting the campaign sooner next year. That way it will give me more time to market it. It is my hope that this event will grow each year and reach more and more classrooms throughout the district. I would like to add the special education classrooms for next year, and eventually be able to be big enough to reach junior high and high schools.”

“Every person who has reached out has helped this campaign grow and for that, I am extremely grateful,” Brooke said.

“I have learned that we live in an amazing community with caring community members that would love to help out with anything that we need,” said this student who aspires to be a 5th-grade teacher (‘because my 5th-grade teacher was the best teacher; she made me enjoy school.’) It also has helped me notice that even though I was fortunate to have parents who were able to provide me and my siblings’ school supplies every year, I know there are some parents or guardians that might not be able to do that, and I am happy to help.”
As she posted on the Community Circle facebook page “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

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