By Danielle Coots
For the News-Current
BEAVERCREEK — Kaylee, Hailey and Zack Berro and neighbor, Stephanie Mullins are building a bridge between the two communities and hoping to recruit others to their future charitable efforts. The four collected school supplies to help Dayton Public school students.
The Beavercreek students distributed flyers to businesses and residents of Oakbrook Chase asking for their help. They provided baskets for the donators to fill with a list of supplies needed. The supplies were either delivered or dropped off at the Berro’s home or the students picked up the baskets.
According to the students, the donations were overwhelming. Some individuals donated supplies that were not listed on the flyer such as new socks, wipes and antibiotic hand sanitizer. In addition to supplies, some individuals donated cash or gently used items.
“We have a large population of families that just need help,” said Kemp Elementary Principal Stacy Maney. “We have some that are homeless and some that just need a little assistance. They may have multiple children in different grades that need different supplies. Drives like this help provide children with success from the beginning of the year.”
Zack, a fifth grader at Main Elementary and Hailey, a sixth grader at Coy Elementary were the muscles of the operation. They walked and rode their bikes in the extreme heat and forfeited a portion of their summer vacation. They tagged about 60-80 houses with flyers.
“The heat was the worst part,” said Hailey. “But, in the end, it was worth it.”
Kaylee and Stephanie, sophomores at Beavercreek High School helped with the collection and will be organization of the supplies from home to the school. Both girls used the experience for their volunteer requirements towards the National Honor Society.
“The day before school, Stephanie and I sat down and sorted and counted everything. The amount of crayons donated is just crazy,” said Kaylee said. “I have some classmates and some friends in color guard who are willing to help in the future.”
Kemp Elementary kindergarden teacher Julie Berro enlists her children to volunteer in her classroom during the year. During a visit, she explained to them that it’s not always a happy time for kids to start school. She explained that many of them are really stressed out because they may not be able to start school prepared.
“These four students for not only took the initiative to reach out to the community to gather the supplies, but also to commit their time and energy to help others,” she said.
“I’ve had children crying outside the classroom because they didn’t have what they needed,” Julie Berro said. “So, we tell them that the desk fairy already delivered their supplies. Once we reassure them that they have supplies, it’s a huge relief for them. There’s an invisible wall with kids that feel they’re lacking — they don’t have new tennis shoes or a new book bag. Now, they have to deal with a new school and a teacher that they don’t know and everyone looks like they have what they need except them. It’s very stressful.”
The students are now be working on counting, organizing, inventorying and shipping the supplies they gathered to the school. Once received at the school, they’ll be responsible for re-boxing and organizing the supplies to fit into the storage area at the school. This process will help the teachers and students find what’s needed quickly throughout the year.
“We get new students every day. Some, without warning. We hit the ground running. They come in and enroll and they’re starting tomorrow. And this assists with the transition. The kids are very aware of when they’re lacking or someone has school supplies that they don’t,” Principle Maney said.
Enclave of Beavercreek, Beavercreek Christian Learning Center Daycare and Beavercreek Lion’s Club helped with the donations of the school supplies, along with approximately 60 homes in the neighborhood. This winter the students will be searching for donations for hat and gloves. Their goal is to ensure that every student at Kemp Elementary will be able to go home for Christmas break with a new set of hat and gloves.
“These students have taken the ‘character education’ that Beavercreek school has incorporated in their curriculum and put it into action,” Berro said.