Audrey Greene knows just how important a blanket, a bear, and a book can be in a young child’s life.
“They can be of great comfort for a homeless student,” noted Greene who serves as the Shasta Elementary School principal.
At the same time Greene wanted to make sure students didn’t get too swept up in the Internet Age and lose sight of the importance of service.
“I want them to learn to have a servant’s heart,” she said.
Those two concerns — helping homeless youth and showing students the importance of serving — gave birth to a service learning project dubbed, “Books, Blankets & Bears.” It is being done in partnership with the Give Every Child a Chance After School Program
Students have been reaching out to their parents and the community to make donations of new Teddy Bears, new books, and fleece material that can be used so students can have hands on experience of making blankets that will then be presented to homeless children.
They will conduct their first Thankful Thursday this week on Nov. 19. At some point during the day each of the school’s 32 classes will devote time to taking the donated fleece material, cutting it, and then tying it to make a blanket.
“This way (by tying and not sewing) every student can have a hand in making the blankets,” Greene said.
Efforts will be made to coordinate the blanket design with age appropriate books and Teddy Bears.
Greene noted the most consistent thing that homeless children have in their lives is inconsistency. School also tends to be one of the most stable parts of their lives.
Greene said the books will help take kids to another place, blankets will keep them warm, and a stuffed bear will give them something cuddle and keep them company.
There are over 500 homeless students and 249 foster care students in the Manteca Unified School District. A portion of the 500 homeless students actually end up living on the street for a period of time while some live in the city’s two homeless shelters for families and moms with children. Most are bounced from place to place as their parents try to find shelter with friends or others at least for a couple of days at a time.
Give Every Child a Chance CEO Carol Davis has been working to secure donated items to go with the Books, Blankets and Bears.
So far she has received 100 backpacks from Target, toothbrushes and dental hygiene products from Valley Oak Dental and Smiles Ahead Dental Care as well as, soap and shampoo from Hampton Inn. Items have also been donated by the Sunrise Kiwanis, Walmart, JC Penny and the Home Depot.
Collection bins are at the Give Every Child a Chance administrative office as well as Raymus Homes, Toni & Guy, and Golden Valley Credit Union. They are also at the following elementary schools: Shasta, Lathrop, Great Valley, Golden West, Sequoia, and Nile Garden.
Greene noted JoAnn’s Fabrics has been giving discounts for people that buy fleece there for the purpose of donating to the effort. She said you need top mention Blankets, Books and Bears.
Students also will make a shorty video as an outreach effort to other schools and students in the district.