When donating to schools, most groups go the route of supplies and money. Few people think of donating underwear en masse, but that’s exactly what one Tacoma non-profit did for Stanley Elementary School, and the students and staff couldn’t be happier.
The Assistance League of South Puget Sound completed its first big project by donating over 150 school uniforms to Stanley Elementary School on Feb. 13.
The South Puget Sound Guild (they are still in the process of becoming a chapter) is fairly new, becoming active in the last year with a 12-member team. While raising money to donate clothes to children, the group was able to strike a deal with the Tacoma School District allowing them to distribute their funds in the area, with Stanley Elementary School being their first partner.
“We wanted to start with Stanley because we heard it’s a great school. We got to talk with [Principal Cindy Johnson] and she’s just so amazing. It’s been such a great day and a great place to start,” Assistance League member Courtney Teddy said.
Several members of the League brought the uniforms to the school early last Thursday, where they had an opportunity to talk one-on-one with several students while they had breakfast, as well as help out in classrooms before addressing all of the students directly at their “Voices of America” assembly.
“Unbeknownst to me or you, these people were thinking of you,” Johnson told her assembled school, who all delivered a heartfelt unified “thank you” to the organization gathered in front of them.
“The assembly was just awesome,” Teddy said, after she and her fellow Leauge members assisted the students in a chorus of “We Shall Overcome” and gave high-fives and hugs to the kids they chatted with at breakfast. “Everyone was having a good time. It felt emotional.”
The time with the students gave the Assistance League a chance to see who their efforts are affecting, and just how mature and engaging the students of Stanley are.
“We wanted to go where the need was, but you’d never know it,” Teddy said.
Stanley will keep the uniforms in a closet and loan them out to students whose families may not be able to afford the cost of mandatory uniforms, which are important to the school.
“The uniform policy is an equalizer. You don’t have children with expensive jeans and clothes, and some without,” fifth-grade teacher Don Haase said. “It levels the playing field so all the kids dress similar and feel equally important.”
Stanley has many low-income students, and many of their families simply don’t have the means to buy a new uniform should their child grow.
“These are bright, brilliant, unbelievable families who get just a little short,” Johnson said. “It’s not that they don’t want to [buy uniforms], they don’t have the means.”
With this in mind, Johnson and the Stanley staff were extremely grateful for the donation.
“They asked, ‘What do you need?’ rather than what they thought we needed,” Johnson said. “Organizations like this, their entire mission is to come in, do good and come out. They don’t ask anything of me, isn’t that awesome?”
The group’s efforts toward not only donating items, but working directly with the children, impressed Johnson.
“What I really liked about them was their sincerity. This is what they want to do,” Johnson said. “It wasn’t because their boss told them to volunteer, or they have to do community service hours because it’s part of their company charter.”
The Assistance League is already looking ahead, planning to go on a membership drive in the spring with a fundraiser in the summer.
“[The money] stays 100 percent in the Tacoma community,” Teddy said.