Nonprofit Spotlight: Assistance League Reno-Sparks address needs of young children (sponsored)

Clayton Middle School showcases on the school’s marquee its thanks to Assistance League. “Donations of this sort make us feel supported and connected to our community,” Principal Turnipseed said.

Clayton Middle School showcases on the school’s marquee its thanks to Assistance League. “Donations of this sort make us feel supported and connected to our community,” Principal Turnipseed said. Courtesy Photo

“History will judge us by the difference we make in the everyday lives of children.” (Nelson Mandela)

Throughout its history, Assistance League® Reno-Sparks has worked diligently to accomplish that goal through its philanthropic programs; three of those programs specifically provide needed assistance to younger children.

Links to Learning does just as its name indicates: finds ways to enhance learning opportunities in Washoe County School District (WCSD) classrooms.

First, by providing $400 awards to elementary teachers to purchase classroom materials or field trips, Links enhances academic goals teachers set for their students.

“We try to work with different groups of schools each year on a rotating basis so we can help many teachers over a span of three years,” Links Chair Delores Clewe said. “Although this was put on hold this year due to the pandemic, we plan to resume the awards next year.”

Next, by purchasing books for elementary libraries that often face low funding for books, Links provides opportunities for children to choose their own books. “This year we granted 11 elementary libraries with $1,000 each to buy books,” Clewe said.

This photo shows Loder Elementary School’s clothes closet before the OSB shopping event. Courtesy Photo


“Your support of libraries is so appreciated,” said Leslie Newcomb, Westergard Elementary school librarian. “It’s been a challenging year in the library. I have been able to push into the classrooms and at least check out books to the kids. It’s been like making a ‘pop up’ bookstore in the classroom.”

Finally, by using funds to support science in WCSD for the last four years, Links has been able to fill a void in science instruction. Three of those years enhanced elementary science through FOSS® (Full Option Science System) kits. This year the emphasis went to middle schools.

“FOSS kits actively engage students with a hands-on approach; in fact, they make students active investigators, not passive spectators,” Clewe said. “We were excited to learn that this year the entire district adopted this curriculum. Perhaps our purchases in the last four years played a role in that adoption.”

Despite COVID-19 restrictions, Operation School Bell® (OSB) continues to look for ways to provide needed clothing to WCSD students since OSB could not conduct its large shopping events at local Target and Walmart stores.

OSB co-chairs Fran Fricke and Barbara Tomac targeted 13 schools to participate in a school uniform/spirit shirt program that benefitted 5,000 students.

“Not all of these schools are uniform schools, but have a high percentage of free/reduced lunch students and are not covered under Title I money,” Fricke said. “Those schools that don’t require uniforms will receive spirit shirts with the school’s mascot.”

This photo  shows Loder Elementary School’s clothes closet after the OSB shopping event and the one below shows it after. “Manny (Loder counselor Manuel Magana) and I would like to thank (OSB) again for allowing us the privilege of being able to buy some clothes for our kiddos,” said Samantha Bogatz, Safe Schools Professional Loder Elementary. Courtesy Photo


 Clayton Middle School will receive a new school uniform polo shirt and one hooded sweatshirt for each of its 491 students. Principal Rhonda Turnipseed expressed her gratitude to Assistance League for the generous donation.

“This donation takes so much financial pressure off of our families and our school,” Turnipseed said. “Operation School Bell is such a wonderful community partner to Clayton Middle School.”

In addition, OSB has arranged to purchase items for targeted schools’ clothes closets that support students’ emergency clothing requirements.

“All of us at O’Brien Middle School are exceedingly grateful for the donation of clothing from the Assistance League,” Ryan Howe, O’Brien Middle School counselor, said. “The clothing will provide assistance for our families in need for years to come.”

Read to ME offers a unique preschool program for the Boys and Girls Club of Truckee Meadows: Grandmas, ALRS volunteers, who read books to children to increase their literacy skills. Also, the program donates books to students for home reading time.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, Grandmas have not been able to read in person to students; however, last year they volunteered 510 hours of reading to 1,360 students. Plans are to resume in-person reading as soon as the preschools allow them to return.

“In addition, Read to ME has purchased and distributed 5,900 books to preschoolers this school year,” Chair Karen McGee said. “In the past we have been able to hand the books to the children, but this year we deliver them to the schools for teachers to hand out. We really have missed that special interaction with the students.”

This year has been challenging for the 336 volunteers at ALRS, but they have met these challenges with persistence and determination to continue meeting the needs of young children. If you or your business would like to help us in this endeavor, please consider becoming a corporate sponsor. Remember that history will judge our community by the differences we make in the lives of our children. Please help us help kids!

This article was provided and paid for by Assistance League® Reno-Sparks. Go to assistanceleague.org/reno-sparks to learn more.


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