VCU programs work to better the lives of RPS students

Sophia Belletti
Staff Writer

Various programs at VCU are working to enhance the learning and school experience for students in the Richmond Public Schools system. The Student Leadership and Involvement Center and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have been working to collect school materials and supplies.

SLIC held a school supply drive benefiting Richmond Public Schools during VCU’s annual welcome week. The campus-wide service project was held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 17 through Friday, Aug. 21. The drive was held in many areas around campus including SLIC’s office, located in the basement of the Student Commons. Students were welcome to drop off school supplies into a bin anytime throughout the week.

“This is the main project where we partner with RPS,” said Beth Ward, VCU’s volunteer service coordinator. “We will take the supplies to the RPS teacher supply store. That’s a location where teachers can go to get supplies for the children in their classes who can not afford them. Without supplies, teachers in many school districts use money out of their own pockets to pay for supplies for children in need.”

The RPS teacher supply store, where all of the teachers gather the materials, is located at Albert V. Norrell Elementary School. Not only do teachers pick up supplies to be used in their classrooms, but they also use the storage to provide supplies for the students who cannot buy the supplies themselves.

“It’s very to neat to hear about how the system works,” Ward said. “It looks like it’s going to be another success story.”

VCU’s donations were successful. Ward noted that this year’s drive was comparable to last year’s with 10 cartons of supplies and large donations from Virginia Book Company and Barnes and Noble. Collections included: 88 binders, 109 notebooks, 24 packs of loose-leaf paper, 100 report covers, 79 gluesticks, 78 erasers and 284 pencils, to name a few.

With that said, the drive tends to lack larger supplies such as pencil sharpeners, construction paper, sharpies, backpacks and scissors.

This year, the drive had some unique donations such as a cup cozy and butterfly wings.

“The children were so delighted to (receive the wings) because they could only imagine what the teacher was going to do with them,” said Ward.

The VCU chapter of the NAACP is holding their first annual school supplies drive for children at the Carver Elementary school. Beginning during welcome week, bins were placed in all VCU dorms, Virginia Book Company, Barnes and Noble and Walmart.

“We didn’t receive that many donations in terms of supplies, so we were going to use money from our organization’s bank account to buy school supplies for the kids and then make the money back by fundraising,” said chapter president Pascaline Ezouah.

The NAACP is dedicated to bringing minority groups together. Criminal justice, education, health, economic development and voting rights are the five areas of focus for the organization.

“NAACP is for the investment of all people,” Ezouah said. “That’s why we’re so big on inclusive and making sure that we know about what other organizations are doing.”

For future plans during the school year, NAACP plans to meet with administration at Richmond public elementary and high schools to work as mentors to the children.

“We plan on having a reading program with the kids in at least one elementary school where we go and read books with them and keep them on track,” Ezouah said. “For the high school students, we would like to do a program with their college applications and help with FAFSA and also introducing them to the fact that you don’t have to go to college to be successful. People who do other alternatives are successful.”


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