We began the room parent program at Marty last year at the request of elementary school principal, Gina Curran. She was looking for help with supplying classroom needs and help in stocking the Feather Store with clothing, toiletries, school supplies, toys and other items students “buy” with feathers they earn for good behavior, attendance, and exhibiting Lakota values. Teachers are given a budget at the beginning of the year to buy supplies for their class but once those are used up and the fund is exhausted the only options are to take from their own pockets or do without which is why we decided to help. Since this is a tribal school, kids attending these schools are very poor and can not buy any school supplies so the school buys for all at the beginning of the year. Last year was a wonderful learning experience for all of us and half of our volunteers have decided to return for another year. The other half are continuing their support but prefer to donate to the school’s Feather Store. Two volunteers were assigned to each class K-5 and mainly helped with providing school supplies, small gift items for birthdays, snacks, and craft supplies for seasonal or special craft projects. The classes are small, usually around 15 or 16 with most grades losing a few students throughout the year. We have the following openings for the 2017/18 school year:
- Kindergarten – 2 people
- Grade 1 -1 person
- Grade 2-1 person
- Grade 3- 1 person
- Grade 5 -1 person
We can have more than 2 room parents per class . Maybe you have a group of friends who want to help kids in a class and one or 2 of you elect to talk with the teacher. You’ll be communicating directly with your teacher via email or phone and receive a picture of your class and teacher. We suggest you send them a photo of yourself (and pets!) and a note telling them a little about yourself and why you want to help their class. Send a card occasionally for the teacher to read to the class. Teachers will acknowledge your donations shortly after arrival and you can learn what your class is doing through the school’s monthly newsletter. Gina is setting up time the first week of August when teachers arrive back at school so they can call and talk with their room parents. At that time you can decide how you all wish to communicate throughout the year and how often. Gina’s hoping there will be some communication from the teacher on a weekly basis and is providing the extra time to do so. You’ll also be emailing (or calling) your partner discussing class needs and coordinating donations. The school is a 501(c)(3) so all donations are tax deductible, please include a SASE with this completed form and include it in your box. We suggest notifying your teacher via email that a box is on the way and state the tentative delivery date if possible, label your box with the classroom as all shipments are delivered to the main office. Take a look at this page for information re sending to the school.
Popular requests last year:
- Snack foods – such as granola bars, crackers, fruit cups, etc.
- School supplies – paper, crayons, markers, pencils, glue sticks, etc.
- Craft supplies – construction paper, pipe cleaners, sequins, beads, yarn, ribbon, pompons and holiday themed craft items.
- Treasure box – small toys, books, crayons, markers, coloring books, etc. to use as rewards or birthday gifts.
- Toiletries – shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, sanitary pads, hotel sized toiletries are fine
- Books – for individual class libraries.
- Socks and underwear
- Christmas gifts – popular items were hats, mittens, pillows with pillowcase, blankets. Many children sleep on the floor.
- a special need for a child in the class that only that child will receive
- white board pens for the teacher
- kleenex, bandaids
- towel and washcloth Many do not have one.
Of course you are not expected to send all these items to your class. These were just some of the requests that came up . You decide with the teacher what is most needed. Many of our room parents last year chose to send gift certificates for Walmart and giving direct donations to the school for their class so supplies could be purchased locally saving time and shipping costs. Another option is to purchase online and have it shipped to a local store such as Walmart or Dollar Tree for pickup by your teacher or school assistant, Paulita. There are many different ways to help and we present these ideas to you as options, you and your partner decide what’s best for you and your class.
As a room parent if you get a request that’s inappropriate or can’t afford please let us know, we’re here to help and have a group of volunteers standing by to assist when needed. We also have many supporters that help keep the Feather Store stocked with toiletries, snacks, clothing, and other supplies that can help students. Please contact Carol here if you’re interested in becoming a room parent for the new school year. Gina reports attendance and test scores were both up last year and credits this program as one of the reasons for improvement. Parents also loved the program as their children were able to get school supplies, warm clothing, shoes and many other things they simply can’t afford to provide.
If room parenting isn’t your cup of tea we’re also looking for volunteers to help support the Feather Store including a special section for the holidays where students can go shopping for gifts for family members. That program was a big hit with the kids and they loved to wrap that special something for a family member Read these blogs here and here. You can also help by making a donation to Sew For Kids through Lakota Friends Circle so we can purchase food and toiletry items for the school. If you do make a donation ,please note where it’s to be used. Also if you shop Amazon on line, consider using Amazon Smile as donations for Lakota Friends Circle add up and allow us to help our programs with needs. Another way to help the school is thru the BOX TOPS for Education program. Just make sure if you send them that the coupons are not out of date. Thank you.
However you decide to help the kids whether it’s by becoming a room parent, giving a donation to SFK or sending goods to the Feather Store, your help is much appreciated by us and by principal Gina Curran and will make a difference to the students at Marty Indian School.
Thanks as always from Sew For Kids. If you are interested in working on projects with a group, join us on Facebook at Sew For Kids Volunteers.