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Program gives kids the tools they need for school

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Tools for Schools furnishes supplies

By The Staff

The Tools for Schools project got underway Aug. 6 and 7 when members from the Unitarian and Bethlehem Lutheran churches unloaded a truckload of school supplies.

Each year the Tools for Schools project donates thousands of dollars in school supplies to at-risk students in poverty, to ensure that all students start the year with the tools they need to accomplish their academic work.

The project’s vision is to help students identify positively with school by minimizing the embarrassment of not having

adequate supplies.

Debbie O’Dean, a counselor at Aspen Elementary School wrote to Joyce Nickols, coordinator of the 2010 Tools for Schools: “Aspen’s needs vary greatly from year to year and I have found that just having some basic supplies on hand has been very helpful.

Generally, I would say that I have used the donated supplies to help around 20-plus students each year.  Even if I can’t give them every item on the list, every bit helps and they are so delighted to be able to walk in that first day with at least some supplies to put in their desks like all of their peers.  I wish you could see how happy they are.”

The program furnishes paper, notebooks, pencils, pens, protractors, rulers and other items to students at 15 elementary and two middle schools in Los Alamos and Española.

In fall of 2009, 1,200 students were given supplies, this year the number has risen to more than 1,300.

During the week of Aug. 9-13, the supplies were delivered to Española and Los Alamos schools.

More than 50 volunteers from the Unitarian Church and many from the Bethlehem Lutheran Church packaged the supplies and delivered them around the area.

United Way of New Mexico and individual contributions fund this effort, which operates under the auspices of Self Help, Inc. ReMax of Los Alamos donated their moving truck so the supplies could be delivered from Staples in Santa Fe.

The Masonic Temple offered space for sorting and boxing the supplies to go to individual schools and S&L Self Storage donated a unit for storing donated supplies for distribution later in the school year.

The project, started in 1996, has a budget this year of $21,000. In spite of that seemingly large amount, it did not have sufficient funds to buy enough 1-2 gigabyte thumb drives for the middle school students.

While individuals could donate thumb drives, donations of money would be appreciated so a larger quantity of thumb drives can be ordered at a discounted price.

Items that would be appreciated by teachers are multiple sizes of Ziplock bags, boxes of tissues, bottles of hand sanitizer, sketchpads, water bottles and  3-hole zippered notebooks.

Donations may be taken to the Self Help, Inc. office located at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church on North Road. Monetary contributions can be made to Self Help, Inc. and sent to 2390 North Road, Los Alamos, N.M. 87544.