Snacks for Schools – Standardized Testing Edition!

May 3, 2017
by Anne Jones

We had an AMAZING turnout for our last gathering at Red Elm Cafe, and between your snacks and cash donations, we realized we had enough snacks for two schools…or more! So before we delivered to Lister, I asked my assistant Toni to make some calls and see who we should help next. After some great conversations (and more than a few tears) she discovered that our snacks would be best deployed in support of the SBAC tests (which are given to 3rd through 5th graders) at all Tacoma Public Schools.

The only problem was that testing started yesterday (no really, May 1st!) so we had to hustle. We grabbed cases of water bottles and string cheese, and added them to your shelf stable donations.  We were able to deliver six schools over the course of three days, and over these next few weeks, we hope to get snacks to seven more of our highest need schools.

I really enjoy getting to visit each of the schools, meet their staff, and soak up a little bit of their campus culture. The Realtor in me loved seeing the remodeled McCarver Elementary building, which is located in Hilltop and is on the national registry of historic places. McCarver is an IB school (International Baccalaureate) and some of the best views in the city. Speaking of great views, I had never been to Roosevelt Elementary -which is located on the big hill right behind Emerald Queen Casino. Diana Saville told me that she was particularly proud of the Ram Center, an after school YMCA program run by Byron Williams. Onsite activities included dance and music, with performances in the community. Students who participate in this program receive a snack or dinner before leaving each night.

While we were on the Eastside we also hung out at Boze, which is tucked away in a residential neighborhood off of East 56th. They are a STEM school and recently held an open house so parents and community members could see the projects their students have been working on. We chatted and cried a little with Ann Balalala, who told us that their parents are very involved, they just don’t have a lot of extra money to give. Although they were thrilled to have our snacks, Ann noted that they could also use volunteers who are willing to meet with their students about their STEM projects over the course of the year.

This sentiment was echoed at Lister, where the boys and I met Principal Kristi Amrine and assistant Ronel Balabat. Lister is located within the Salishan community  and is home to the SAIL program (highly capable). Their building was buzzing when we visited after school, with students and parents busy playing outside. We also chatted with Dean of students Ben Schau and Linda Bourlet who is Lister’s family liaison.  Lister was our target school for this Snack drive because their current free and reduced lunch rate is 94%.  Linda told us that they also were looking for more volunteers, and bike helmets. If have one you’d like to donate, call us or email Linda at: lbourle@tacoma.k12.wa.us

On Friday we took snacks to Jenny Reed (this is the school near 38th street – you can see it from the freeway). Kate Frazier, who is Reed’s Principal (and Washington State principal of the year!) called us afterwards to let us know that their PTA was going to buy snacks for the week of testing – but now that they don’t have to, they can afford to do something for teacher appreciation week. This made me really happy, because we know these teachers won’t let their students go hungry — and this drive is as much about them as it is the kids!

There is still a LOT of need, so our next event will be Friday, May 5th at 5 pm – join us, or let us know if you’d like us to pick up snacks at your home or office. Call or text Anne Jones at 253-444-8481 or drop us an email at: downtowntacoma@windermere.com.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!!

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