NEW PALESTINE — Any item a student needs to have a successful day in the classroom was sitting on Donna Vanderwal Wilson’s table.
Her kitchen table has become a storage area for school supplies with piles of notebooks, boxes of crayons, bottles of glue, markers and more. The New Palestine mother of two is spending her summer preparing for the upcoming school year by making sure area students at Sugar Creek Elementary School who are lacking funds for new supplies and a backpack will get everything they need.
Vanderwal Wilson’s youngest daughter, Lauren, is a fifth-grader at Sugar Creek and she knows the families of some students can’t always afford the needed supplies. She called school officials, who were thrilled she volunteered to collect supplies and a backpack for at least 42 students.
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One thing she knows her girls look forward to when they start thinking about going back to school is getting their supplies and backpacks together.
“I just thought ‘what about the kids that don’t have that?’” She said. “What do they have to look forward to heading back to school?”
School officials happen to have 35 extra backpacks from last year to help kick off the back to school project. Vanderwal Wilson then used social media to start spreading the word to collect everything else.
She printed out all the different grade level school supply lists and then began asking for donations. She started out collecting for three boys and three girls from each grade and has since been asked by school officials to add a few more.
“Now 42 kids are going to have everything they need ready at the school for them,” Vanderwal Wilson said.
Through friends with connections, Vanderwal Wilson was able to get earbuds donated by Scott Plybon of the Plybon Company.
Her goal is to make the school supply project a yearly summertime collection event with hopes of getting enough supplies and backpacks for all students in need throughout the Community School Corporation in Southern Hancock County.
It means next year’s project could be five times as large.
Vanderwal Wilson’s oldest daughter Stephanie, an 8th-grader at Doe Creek Middle School, and Lauren are helping their mom organize and pack the supplies into the backpack.
While they’ve already had many generous community members step up and help with donations and funds to purchase school supplies, they still need some supplies.
They’re hoping to get their hands on over 1,000 official school pencils, glue sticks, Kleenex tissues packets, Clorox wipes and printing paper.
They’ve set up an account at gofundme.com/wnqjk7-backpack-and-school-supplies to start raising money for the rest of the needed items.
Any leftover funds will be donated to the school’s needy family fund to be used for the lunch program to help families who have difficulty paying on lunch accounts.
Anyone wishing to provide the needed supplies or help with the project in any way can reach Vanderwal Wilson at email@example.com.