Brand new pencils, brand new notebooks

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Lab employees help prepare children for the new school year

By Kirsten Laskey

Tim Martinez, Los Alamos National Laboratory employee giving specialist, and the staff at Self Help, Inc. ran into a problem that many charitable organizations in small towns face. Their intentions to supply children who are in need with new school materials were overlapping and the two entities found each other stepping and stumbling over each other’s toes.

To avoid the problem this year, Self Help’s Tools for School and LANL’s backpack drive are teaming up to help children get ready for the school year.

 Martinez explained that LANL employees are being challenged to provide new backpacks to the Santa Fe Public School’s Adelante Program, Santa Fe Wings for Hope, Taos Pueblo Day School, the students’ homeless program at Española Public Schools, Española Y Teen Center and the Boys and Girls Club of Chimayó and Santa Cruz.

The goal, he said, is to collect 800 backpacks and so far 400 have been donated. Last year, 730 backpacks were distributed.

“If it wasn’t for the kindness and goodness of the laboratory employees, these programs wouldn’t be successful,” Martinez said.

Additionally, to benefit LANL’s LACES, a 3K fun run/walk will be held at 11 a.m. Aug. 18 at Central Park Square. Martinez said the goal is to have 300 people register for the event.

For more information, or to register, participants should call 664-0964 or e-mail kicksforkids@lanl.gov.

Meanwhile, Self Help is continuing its Tools for Schools program, which gives school supplies to Los Alamos and Santa Fe Public Schools. The program started in 1996, Ellen Morris Bond, executive director of Self Help, said. The program receives support from United Way of Northern New Mexico and private donations.

Schools supplies are purchased for students in need; they are delivered in a truck and organized by volunteers before being distributed to the schools, Morris Bond added.

While monetary donations are encouraged for the program, flash drives are also needed.

To support this program, call 662-4666 or e-mail lash@qwestoffice.net.

This year, the Masons have offered the Masonic Lodge as a space to hold the supplies. Mason Dale Thompson explained education plays a major role in the Masons organization. They host the Bikes for Reading breakfasts that raise money for school sports and music organizations.

Both entities believe the partnership is a step in the right direction.

“I really believe if you are not working out in the community as a whole … you are missing out,” Martinez said.

Morris Bond agreed. “I think it’s really important not to duplicate with resources that exist,” she said.

Furthermore, Morris Bond said it is important to develop liaisons at the schools to draw a detailed picture of what exactly the students need.

Plus, they are both working for a great cause.

“Anything we can do to make learning more fun, less stressful and start the school year well for students is important,” Morris Bond said.

Martinez added, ”If kids don’t have the proper tools the employees can come in to help.”

Also, he said, it’s important that every student have the proper tools.

“It puts them on equal footing,” Martinez said.