Rochester, Rochester HillsJune 26, 2012
New program to give needy kids school supplies this fall
By Mary Beth Almond
C & G Staff Writer
ROCHESTER — As a child, one of Alhan Miller’s favorite things to do was go back-to-school shopping, so she is thrilled to share the experience with her 5-year-old son Landon, who will be attending kindergarten in the Rochester Community Schools District this fall.
Although back-to-school shopping has always been fun for Miller, of Rochester Hills, she realizes others in the district might not get to experience the joy she finds in school shopping. For the many families struggling to pay their mortgages or to fill up their gas tanks, purchasing school supplies is simply out of the question, a lesson Miller learned at the district’s Kindergarten Round-Up event last February.
“During the event, the superintendent and the principals kept on talking about how important it is to fill out the paperwork for free and reduced lunches — which I thought was odd,” she said.
Curious to learn more, she talked to administrators and was even more surprised to learn that approximately 200 incoming kindergartners qualified for the free and reduced lunch program this coming school year. She decided right then that she wanted to do something to make sure those children would be well prepared to start off their educational career, an idea that sparked the creation of the ReadySetGo program this year.
“The goal of the program is to provide entering … kindergartners who qualify for free and reduced lunch with a backpack full of supplies to start their school experience on the right note. The backpacks will come with all of the supplies that the Rochester School District requires, which is a pretty lengthy list,” Miller said.
Rochester Community Schools Foundation Manager Debbi Hartman said a typical RCS school supply list includes one pair of Fiskar scissors, four large glue sticks, two packages of Crayola crayons (16 count), an eight-pack of Crayola water-based markers, two plain pocket folders of any color, one large backpack that can hold a large library book, one 1-inch three-ring white binder with a clear plastic cover, one package of Crayola twistable colored pencils, one package of Crayola thin-tip markers, and two fine-tip black Sharpie pens.
Hartman confirmed that RCS has seen an increase in families who qualify for free and reduced lunch over the years.
“This program will be a real help to them. We expect approximately 950 kindergarten students in the fall, with approximately 16 percent qualifying for free and reduced lunch,” she said.
Hartman said ReadySetGo is a “great program,” but the thing she likes best about it is that Miller, a district parent, proposed it.
“The RCS Foundation is delighted to work with Alhan Miller, who has really been the heart of this campaign,” she said. “This will assist those students whose parents are struggling financially.”
Those interested in helping are asked to donate $15 — or any amount they can give — to the cause, through a restricted fund managed by the Rochester Community Schools Foundation. All proceeds will go directly to the ReadySetGo program to finance the purchase of backpacks and school supplies, which will be purchased at a reduced rate through the district’s purchasing department. All donations are tax deductible, and checks should be made payable to “Rochester Community Schools Foundation” and mailed to 501 W. University Drive, Rochester, MI 48307. To make a credit card donation, call (248) 726-3139.
Backpacks will be distributed to qualifying students initially at the Back to School Bonanza, a free health and wellness event for the greater Rochester area Aug. 11, and then as students start school in September.
“This year, my goal was to provide it for kindergartners and see if it would be successful, and so far, it’s been successful,” Miller said. “It’s amazing how generous people are and how fast it’s all coming together.”
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