During its second year in the Wright City R-II School District, the Care to Learn initiative is making a tremendous impact on both families and teachers in the community, officials said.
The Missouri-based program out of Springfield was started by Doug Pitt, brother of actor Brad Pitt. One of its primary advocates, Executive Director Linda Ramey-Greiwe, is a graduate of Wright City.
Recently, Kelly Brooks and Jeff Catron, both members of the R-II Care to Learn advisory board, attended a Champions Chat event in St. Louis to promote the event.
“They asked for two people from each school that participates in Care to Learn to come out and discuss how the program has impacted our school,” said Brooks.
The duo met with business leaders and other school districts interested in either supporting or integrating Care to Learn into their own environments.
Brooks says it was a prime opportunity to be a voice for the organization and let others know how beneficial the program can be.
“It’s been great for our district,” she said. “We’ve been able to provide immediate funding for students who were in need of health, hunger and hygiene needs.”
Care to Learn, which was founded in 2008, exists to help provide children with the most basic but essential needs when it comes to learning. These needs can include being clean, fed, properly clothed or having medication.
“We’ve had students who couldn’t get their prescriptions filled, because of insurance reasons,” said Brooks. “We’ve had a couple of students who had fires and needed clothing and food.”
The school is able to provide vouchers for students to go to Walmart to buy clothes or necessities when their family is faced with hardship. At times, students may not be able to rely on their families, and this is where Care to Learn comes into the picture.
In addition, the program has been able to outfit students with prescription glasses and can help with hearing or similar medical needs that might impair a child’s ability to learn.
How does Care to Learn acquire its resources?
“We pretty much do all of the fundraising ourselves,” said Brooks. “We have teachers that participate in payroll deduction, with a certain amount going toward Care to Learn. We’ve also had businesses donate and staff members that volunteer at cooperate events for donations.”
R-II hosted a dunking booth at Strassenbash in September to raise funds. Perhaps the biggest fundraising effort came through the middle school, which collected over $2,000 through its “Taco your Teacher, Burrito your Buddy” fundraiser.
Winning teams got to cover the last-place teams in a variety of toppings, similar to the pie-in-the-face routine.
“We’re going to start a food and hygiene pantry for high school students so that students can discreetly get any food or hygiene products they need at home,” said Brooks.
The district also plans to provide Christmas meals for two families from each of the school buildings through Care to Learn.
“We hope to continue being able to provide more and more each year for our students,” added Brooks.