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You can almost imagine the quotation on a poster, tacked to a corkboard or stuck on a classroom wall, something inspirational for school children to see each day. 

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.”  

That, from the wisdom of Helen Keller. 

Together, we can help school children, some of them so alone, some with so little. And we can help the teachers and staff dedicating their lives to education. 

As the 2017-18 Huntsville City School year is underway, it’s appropriate to remind of multiple ways in which residents can assist teachers with both supplies and as volunteers.

State and federal budget cuts have carved deeply into educational spending. Many teachers spend enormous amounts of money from their own pockets for supplies and cash-strapped parents sometimes find themselves struggling to pay for the most basic necessities, much less to cover extraordinary costs. 

Here are some ways to help: 

‘Get Involved’ with HCS 

The Huntsville City Schools Virtual Volunteer Center assists staff in finding volunteers and material donations, “a one-stop shop for collecting teacher wishes and needs for their classrooms and students,” said Rena Anderson, Director of Community Engagement for Huntsville City Schools.  

The portal is accessible through the HCS website – huntsvillecityschools.org — and by clicking the Get Involved tab. 

“We have a very giving and supportive community,” says Rena Anderson, Director of Community Engagement for Huntsville City Schools. “I’m always asked by community members and organizations, ‘What can I do to help the schools and teachers?’ I have a great answer – Adopt A Teacher Wish.” 

Among the current needs, with more details and contact info on the site: 

— Math tutor for Lee High School students 

— A robotics team volunteer/mentor at James I. Dawson Elementary 

— Band instruments at Columbia High, where it expects “exponential growth over the next two years.” Additionally, the band has been invited to Washington, D.C., to march in a Veteran’s Day parade and needs financial support to make the trip a reality 

— “Calm Down Kits” for students at Blossomwood Elementary, to help students cope with stress 

— Equipment for the audio/visual club at Williams P-8 

— Lee High School “pantry,” with school supplies, canned good and non-perishable food items and personal toiletry items for students in need

— Manpower and tools to help clear and maintain a nature trail at Columbia High 

— A science lab table at Columbia 

Anderson noted that the list is constantly evolving and encourages supporters to check frequently for updates. For information, she can be reached at rena.anderson@hsv-k12.org or at 256-428-6943. 

Free 2 Teach 

Eula Battle, wife of Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, was a teacher for 26 years before retirement. When her husband began his first term as mayor, she “knew I couldn’t give the 150 percent I needed to give to teaching.”  

That led her to starting Free 2 Teach, a non-profit that provides teaching material, classroom equipment and school supplies for some 89 schools in Huntsville City Schools, Madison City Schools and Madison County Schools, with a potential reach of 52,000 students. 

Free 2 Teach began in her garage as she collected donated materials and has grown to an operation that distributed nearly $1 million in supplies during the 2016-17 school year from its 10,000-square foot warehouse.  

Donor’s Choose 

A national program started in 2000, Donor’s Choose provides the opportunity for teachers to make requests for assistance from the public. 

The website enables a donor to choose a school or teacher by geography, or a project that might have a particular interest to the donor, whether it be English, science, mathematics or language. 

There are currently 21 projects/requests from Huntsville area teachers on Donor’s Choose, ranging from a set of books for a class reading to headphones for a language lab to three-ring binders. 

A trivial aside: The Heisman Trophy Trust, which annually awards the top college football player in the country, sends a gift card to each of its 1,000-plus voters to apply to a Donor’s Choose project. 

Said Rob Whalen, Executive Director of the Heisman Trophy Trust, “Through DonorsChoose.org, the Heisman Trophy Trust is able to make a difference in the lives of students by making sure they have access to the supplies needed to further their educations.  We are proud to be involved with this charity and to see students in the Huntsville area benefit from this donation that will help enrich their learning experiences.”