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Eastpointe

September 28, 2012

Backpack and school supply donation benefits 50 students

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

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AT&T employees gave 25 students at Pleasantview Elementary School backpacks Sept. 17. Because it was Constitution Day, state Sen. Steve Bieda came along and spoke to the kids about the Constitution.

EASTPOINTE — AT&T employees were joined by state Sen. Steve Bieda at two Eastpointe elementary schools to pass out 50 backpacks to students in need.

“AT&T has a division, they call themselves the Pioneers,” said Cindy Madison, the executive assistant to the superintendent at East Detroit Public Schools. “It’s not money from AT&T, it’s the employees themselves (and retirees) — they do fundraising, and they do charitable acts.”

This group of AT&T Pioneers decided to provide backpacks, each filled with school supplies and other items, such as facial tissue, that students might need throughout the year, as a part of their nationwide Tools for Learning Campaign.

They invited Bieda with them to deliver 25 backpacks to lower elementary students in kindergarten through second-grade at Crescentwood, and 25 to upper elementary students in grades three through five at Pleasantview on the morning of Sept. 17, Constitution Day.
Bieda spoke with the students about the Constitution, the legislative process and how a bill becomes a law. He then offered a message of encouragement, telling the students they could achieve their dreams while stressing the importance of a good education.

Bieda said he enjoyed the event and spoke of the happiness and gratitude the children expressed.

“It was a joy to see the excited and happy children as they each received a backpack,” Bieda said. “I hope these backpacks and school supplies are useful to our young scholars’ success in school.”

After speaking with the students, he met with each one, one-on-one, to shake hands and exchange a few words. It was during this time that the backpack donation’s impact on these students’ lives became clear.

“One girl gave me her old tattered and torn backpack,” Bieda said. “She was so happy to have a new pink backpack, because she was so embarrassed of the old one.”

Each student receiving a backpack has faced hardship at a young age. Some of them shared their hardships with him.

“One child told me he was carrying his school supplies in a garbage bag, because his family couldn’t afford a backpack,” Bieda said.

Francis Hobbs, the principal of Pleasantview, described the day as one the students will not forget.

“Our students learned from the senator and were surprised with the gift of a backpack full of school supplies to support their education,” Hobbs said. “It was an exciting day for all of them. They will truly remember this day.”

Crescentwood Principal Susan Miller was surprised by just how excited and grateful every single one of the students was at getting the backpacks. Even though she works with students every day, the event served as a little reminder of why she does what she does and just how much of a difference even little things can make in a child’s life.

“One of the first-graders was so excited when he opened the backpack, he said, ‘I’ve never had my own pair of scissors before,’” Miller said. “They were all so excited; they wanted to look through their school supplies instead of posing for a picture.”

“The students were surprised and grateful, the parents expressed gratitude at curriculum night, and I am grateful, too,” Miller continued. “This was so kind of the AT&T workers. They truly must understand the importance of each child being prepared for school and how important for the children to have their own ‘cool’ backpack.”

For the AT&T employees there that day, the gratitude shown by the students made it all worthwhile.

“(It) was a fun day for sure,” said Lori Doughty, who represents the local AT&T Pioneers. “The kids were great and so appreciative.”

After their visit to Eastpointe, Doughty and fellow employees continued on to Warren where they delivered more backpacks to students at Warren Woods Middle School. So far this year, they’ve donated more than 1,500 backpacks to local students.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.